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Media Contact: Tia McCollors 07 January 2004    
  (404) 727-5692   Print  | Email ]

Emory Conference to Focus on Lou Gehrig's Disease
What: "Lou Gehrigs Disease: Hope in the 21st Century" 2004 Virginia Lee Franklin Conference in Neurology Who: Sponsored by Emory Universitys Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Co-Sponsored by Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital When: Friday, February 27, 7:30 a.m.  3:00 p.m.

Where: Marriott Century Center Hotel, 2000 Century Blvd. NE I-85 @ Clairmont Rd., Atlanta (404) 325-0000

Researchers and health professionals from Emory University will convene to discuss what is known - and what is still to be discovered - about Lou Gehrigs disease during the annual Virginia Lee Franklin Conference. Approximately five to 10 persons per 100,000 worldwide are affected with Lou Gehrig disease.

Lou Gehrigs disease  or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)  affects the nerves and muscles of the body, slowly stealing its control and movements. Often times, the muscles may become totally paralyzed while the cognitive function of the patient remains untouched. During ALS, motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which control motor functions such as walking, talking and breathing, selectively and progressively deteriorate, but do not regenerate.

Conference sessions will include insight in the areas of ALS diagnosis, symptom management, speech and swallowing, mobility and seating solutions and the role of the attorney in disability and terminal illness. There will also be a panel session with a team of experts to explain the multidisciplinary team approach and a panel of patients living with ALS and their caregivers to discuss their experience.

"ALS is the cruelest disease," says Meraida Polak, RN, a nurse clinician at the ALS Center at Emory University and a member of the conference planning committee. "Not only is it universally fatal, but it robs people of the ability to use their limbs, speak, eat, and breathe. While we still don't have a cure for ALS, there is much that we can do to help persons with the disease live better lives."

Jonathan D. Glass, MD, professor of neurology at Emory University and director of the ALS Center at Emory University, will present a research update on ALS in the 21st century. The ALS Center at Emory University is the only one of its kind in Georgia. Dr. Glass and his colleagues care for a patient base of about 100 to 130 people from all over the Southeast. Since there is currently no cure for ALS, Dr. Glass treats patients for their symptoms, while continuing to research for causes and potential treatments for the disease.

Other conference presenters include Emory neurology experts and staff and faculty in areas of speech pathology, social work, clinical nutrition, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, and physical therapy.

Conference cost are: students $10, faculty and staff $35, others $35. After February 17, the cost will be $45 and $60 at door (space permitting). Interested persons can call Di Shelburne at (404) 727-8421 for registration information.

Virginia Lee Franklin earned a master's degree in nursing from Emory University in 1957 and taught surgical nursing at the School of Nursing. To honor her after her death in 1981, her parents created the Virginia Lee Franklin Memorial Trust. In the spirit of Virginia Lee Franklin's commitment to teaching and to the specialty of neurology, the trust supports an annual conference dedicated to the advancement of neuroscience teaching, research, and practice.

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