It seems as if practically everyone I know has taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The growing list of participants includes celebrities, sports figures, politicians, religious leaders, housewives, school children and even people suffering with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Several members of the Pi Dental Center team have also gotten drenched and donated to ALS.
How it all began
A professional golfer from Sarasota, Chris Kennedy, is credited as being the first person to take the Ice Bucket Challenge. In just a few weeks, the challenge has raised $53.3 million for research, increased awareness and added many new supporters to the battle to help eradicate a terrible disease.
What is ALS?
No cure exists for ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), a devastating disease that robs a person of physical ability while their mental faculties are undiminished. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease become totally paralyzed. Most people who have the disease die within two to five years after diagnosis. Drugs can only treat symptoms.
ALS and the Prosthodontics Intermedica Foundation
"Pi" has a long history of support through the Prosthodontics Intermedica Foundation, the charitable arm of our dental healthcare organization. In 1999, the Pi Foundation teamed up with The Philadelphia Phillies and Shonda Shilling for a major fundraising event held to benefit ALS research. Co-founder of the Foundation, Mrs. Joanne Balshi affirms, “Just like the Intermedica in our corporate name signifies our passion for the health of the entire body, within the Foundation it signifies our sensitivity to the need to conquer more than just dental disease. ALS is a very aggressive disabling disease that has affected our patients and relatives of our patients. We stand hand in hand with them to support research that will eventually eliminate this horrific diagnosis.”
Caring for people with ALS
The challenges for families and caregivers of ALS patients are many. Because the patient frequently loses the use of their vocal chords, communication becomes extremely difficult. Maintaining quality of life and comfort sometimes needs to focus on the health issues that remain controllable. Keeping the mouth clean and pain free is one positive contribution.
The doctors and staff at the Pi Dental Center have vast experience treating patients with advanced health problems, severe handicaps and poor mobility. They include patients with ALS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, polio, advanced stages of cancer and paralyzing injuries. The Pi team is adept at identifying patient needs even when the patient is unable to verbalize them. The “old-fashioned compassion” in which we take pride is working at its best with these most critical physical demands.
The Pi Dental Center is wheel chair accessible and provides expanded comforts for patients and caregivers. Putting everyone at ease is part of the daily script for all patients but especially for those with heightened healthcare anxiety and compromise.
The ALS organization urges people to spread awareness.
By Chris Raines
Web Site Administrator
Pi Dental Center