Pilot study to determine the effectiveness of a new neck brace design for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Pamela Glazener


Background/Objective: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. People with ALS who exhibit neck extensor weakness stop ambulating because they no longer can hold their head erect. Neck braces currently available resist or restrict lung expansion and are not an option for this population. This was a study of the impact a prototype neck brace had on quality of life, mobility, and breathing capacity of people with ALS.

Methods: Five subjects were recruited and fitted for the prototype brace. Subjects completed a demographic form, ALS-Specific Quality of Life (ALSSQOL) survey, Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) test with and without the brace. Subjects wore the brace 1 to 3 months and then repeated the measurements. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the sample and summarize the data.

Results: The initial average ALSSQOL score was 6.0. After 1 to 3 months of wearing the brace, the ALSSQOL score was 4.8. The initial FVC average showed 34.6% predicted without the brace and 37.4% predicted with the brace. After 1 to 3 months, the FVC average was 32.85% without the brace and 36% with the brace.

Conclusion: The prototype neck brace allows ALS patients with neck weakness to remain ambulatory while improving or maintaining their respiratory status. Although this pilot study had a small number of subjects, the brace was shown to be beneficial in terms of quality of life and improved respirations. Even small improvements have a large impact clinically in this patient population.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v4n6p1

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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