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OhioHealth ALS Clinic Celebrates 10 Years

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ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Every year, around 6,400 people in the United States are diagnosed with ALS. An estimate of 20,000 Americans are currently living with the disorder. 

The OhioHealth ALS Clinic is celebrating 10 years of service. John Novak, MD, a neurologist and the medical director of the ALS Clinic at OhioHealth has guided his team into success over the years.

ALS Clinic Celebrates 10 YearsDr. Novak expressed that the team committing themselves to providing the most supportive and beneficial care has been a turning point for treating patients with ALS. “This team is really committed themselves to learning more about it staying on the cutting edge and really has committed themselves to helping these patients which has been amazing.” says Dr. Novak.

"I think what really has helped is the whole team is buying into really helping these patients. I mean we have great group. They maybe didn't know that a ton about ALS when they first started but they've all educated themselves, now they're educating other people.” Dr. Novak mentions hosting of symposiums and therapy sessions have been helpful in educating on how to care for patients with ALS.

In central Ohio, ALS makes an impact on families on a daily basis.  Buckeye fans across Ohio and beyond have recently lost a hero, friend, and mentor to many to a battle with ALS. William White, former all-American defensive back, died after battling ALS at 56 years old. White also helped others with ALS by spreading awareness through his vulnerability and openness regarding his diagnosis.

Dr. Novak, told 10TV that it is not uncommon for former athletes to be diagnosed with ALS. “It seems to be higher in athletes who have gone through, you know, like multiple head injuries, football players, rugby players, those types.”

Patients with ALS lose the ability to speak and the loss of muscle. This leaves them able to understand, but unable to communicate. Dr. Novak mentions that this is a frustrating place to be, being able to understand but unable to communicate. “For most people, they know what's going on. They just have a hard time communicating. But it's not because they don't understand it. It's because they physically just can't talk, which is really frustrating place to be,” says Dr. Novak.

Public figures like White have a powerful, lasting impact by sharing their fight with the world and being open about the battle against ALS.

Maurice Hall, an actor and former OSU player spoke to 10TV about how White impacted his life by being his mentor. They met when Hall was just nine years old the Carter White Football clinic at OSU.

William White’s generous, kind, and positive impact on the Buckeye family and ALS community will forever be cherished and remembered.

To learn more about ALS care at OhioHealth, click here.

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