October 25, 2019 in Research
Disability Viewed through Cross-Cultural Lenses


Nowadays, health professionals from all over the world face a great number of different mental diseases in patients. The reason of such an increase is attributable to various factors, namely environment health conditions, interpersonal relationships, etc. People who suffer from mental illnesses undergo a variety of medical examinations and tests respectively. They suffer both physically and mentally. In addition, the problem of mental diseases is quite controversial. On the one hand, it is treated as the most dangerous sickness, which needs profound and long treatment. On the other hand, some consider it to be of less importance. Nevertheless, the fact is that mental diseases still exist in the contemporary world. Consequently, the appropriate treatment and care in the hospitals should be provided for those who suffer from this kind of diseases. One of such illnesses is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This type of mental illnesses damages the motor neurons and brain stems respectively. People who suffer from this disease are unable to control their mental state. In fact, there are numerous alternative treatment approaches to this illness in different countries. The aim of this paper is to provide the analysis of the main approaches to the treatment of ALS in the USA and UK.

The Essence of the Disease

ASL is considered to be a progressive neurodegenerative illness characterized by comparatively selective death of upper motor neurons in the cerebral cortex and lower motor neurons in the brainstem and spinal cord. It provides the increase of the mix of upper and lower motor neuron signs, which results in the weakness and bulbar muscles with atrophy. According to Rowland, the outcomes of ASL can be dangerous and it may take a long period to diagnose the conditional level. While the diagnosis is being established, the individual may experience important functional lack and symptom control needs. In addition, “death occurs in most patients within two to five years after diagnosis, usually from ventilator muscle weakens causing respiratory failure”. In fact, approximately 70% of the patients have problems with limb involvement and the rest with bulbar symptoms, namely hypophonia and dysarthria. Furthermore, “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is characterized by the absence of sensory symptoms, although pathological conditions have been found in the sensory systems of some patients with ALS”. Accordingly, muscular weakness lasts over time, and the rate of physical worsening differs among individuals. Many patients have to tackle the losses of speech, mobility and physical activity, as well. Analyzing the mentioned facts, scholars started investigating the alternative treatment for the patients who suffer from ASL. In fact, in 1993, the discovery was made. It had been discovered that the reason for the appearance of ASL is the mutation in the superoxide dismutase -1 (SOD-1), a gene situated on chromosome 21.  Superoxide dismutase eliminates free radicalism, which damage cells although being the product of normal cell metabolism. 

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The neuroscientists emphasize that excessive stimulation of nerve cells by a great amount of glutamate could cause the total death of the cell. The immune system can be drown in ALS since the antitoxin of individuals with ALS has been depicted to have antibodies to motor neurons. Despite the fact that these mechanisms are connected to ALS, the pathogenesis of ALS is compound. According to the mentioned information, one may admit that ASL is a considerable disease that needs a deep analysis and sufficient treatment. For this reason, there are numerous treatment approaches to this illness. 

Disease-Modifying Medication

Nowadays, a great number of neurology clinics provide sufficient treatment to the patients. Most of the doctors subscribe to the opinion that early access to professional treatment can provide better future results for the patients. The reason is that the therapist can provide complex investigation of the particular problem. Every multidisciplinary team consists of neurologists, professional nurse, physiotherapist, speech therapist, and gastroenterologist. One may admit that the team is highly qualified, and it can provide the effective treatment.

According to the leading provider of medical information Wolters Kluwer Health, Riluzole, only disease-modifying therapy is proven sufficient in ALS. In addition, it is “generally well tolerated, monitoring of full blood court and liver function is required”. The riluzole was invented in 1996, and it enabled to find the alternative approaches to the ALS treatment. Riluzole is the only drug licensed for treating ALS in the UK. It was proved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Most of the people who suffer from the mentioned disease can get it free of charge. 

Initially, human muscles are controlled by electrical impulses sent from brain. They are transmitting though the neuronal system. The transition is based on the release of a chemical impulse. For some neurons, the chemical impulse is glutamate. Nevertheless, the high amount of glutamate is dangerous for the organism. Riluzole reduces the excessive influence of glutamate. Furthermore, riluzole does not provide any damage to the neurons at all. The appliance of this drug lowers the progression of the illness. 

In fact, the American doctors use riluzole as the basic treatment for ALS. This kind of drug is legalized in all states of America. Most of the neurologic clinics apply this medicine for getting the sufficient result in the struggle with ALS. Nevertheless, there is one more alternative for the mentioned illness treatment in the USA, which is the usage of Nuedexta. This medicine comprises of dextromethorphan and quinidine. Dextromethorphan influences the impulses in the brain that generate cough reflex and is applied as a cough depressant. Quinidine influences the heart beats way and is applied for the treatment of some heart disorders. Nuedexta is used for reducing the sudden outburst of cry or laugh. Actually, such physical behavior is often observed while speaking about ASL. Consequently, one may admit that both UK and US specialists use Riluzole as the main drug for helping the patients overcome their illness. 

Treatment of ALS in the USA

Approximately 50% of patients are treated at a CoE, and, in the United States, there are 67 well-established CoEs for ALS care. Every patient has to undergo profound medical examination every 3-6 months. The highly qualified team, which consists of “neuromuscular specialists, nurses, physical therapists/orthotics, occupational therapists, speech therapists, nutritionists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, and psychologists/social workers/psychiatrists”, is responsible for sufficient treatment. According to the video Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, all American clinics use Riluzole as the main treatment. This is supposed to be the most effective drug in the USA. The patients have a right to choose whether they want to take it or not. The issue is related to the fact that it is expensive and some patients suppose that it is useless to take it. 

There is one more alternative way of ALS treatment in the USA, which is Tirasemtiv. This is a muscle activator established for treating diseases connected with muscle wasting. Nowadays, Tirasemtiv is the “the subject of a Phase IIb680 patient, worldwide clinical trial called BENEFIT-ALS (Blinded Evaluation of Neuromuscular Effects and Functional Improvement with Tirasemtiv in ASL). This trial enables to undergo the therapy in order to evaluate the sufficiency of Tirasemtiv.

In fact, the issue of ALS disease has gained wide popularity among the American population. Today, there are many campaigns designed for acquainting people with this disease. In addition, the mass media are the main distributors of the information concerning the ALS disease. Numerous youth organizations try to grab people’s attention to this issue. According to the video Living with ALS, “The clever promotional campaign not only increases awareness of the cause but also gives consumers a call to action. Many marketing campaigns can capture attention, but far fewer can bring in money via sales or donations”. Consequently, this is the best way of getting money and changing human’s attitude towards individuals who suffer from ALS. It can be noted that the American government tries to control the state of the mentioned disorder in the state. The great concern is the individuals who cannot afford to appropriate treatment. The government cares about them greatly providing free of charge treatment.

Treatment of MND in the UK

In the UK, there is a special concern about people who suffer from MND. There is the only Motor Neuron Disease charity in Scotland. This organization provides sufficient care and support for everyone who suffers from MND. The main target of the organization is to make the life of disabled less sophisticated. In fact, the UK totally supports the disabled. The government has developed sufficient reforms concerning the problem of MND. All of the patients can apply for a job and even find themselves appropriate for the desirable position. Before applying, they undergo special medical examination that shows the level of the disease. According to the video Ice Bucket Challenge –  MND Scotland 2014, “100% of people with MND who have received support from our charity’s dedicated Welfare and Benefits service have been assigned to the ESA Support Group and awarded full benefit”. It is obvious that disabled people could feel more protected under the influence of the mentioned reforms.

Another relevant issue is the personal independent payment. According to the video Personal Independence Payment to Replace Disability Living Allowance, “From June 2013 people who receive a diagnosis of MND will be assessed for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). From October, those who currently receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and report a change in their illness will be reassessed for PIP”. MND patients have a right to apply for additional payment, which can assist in the struggle against the disease.

The representatives of the UK government try to provide additional living space for people with MND. This reform is called “The Bedroom Tax”. According to the video, “On the 1st April this year, the new size criteria for social housing tenants receiving Housing Benefit, known as ‘the bedroom tax’, came into effect”. These rooms are appointed for people who take care of the MND individuals. The reason is obvious: the treatment requires enormous amount of equipment, so the additional room will the perfect solution to the problem. Additionally, one may admit that UK government provides better treatment of the MND patients than the USA one.


To sum up, the conducted analysis of the sources helps to define that mental diseases are one of the enormous issues of importance in the modern society. Considering the example of such illnesses as ALS and MND, it is possible to notice that they are harmful not only for the people’s state of health but also for their interaction and self-realization in the social life. Due to it, many countries have developed the special programs that help overcome these diseases and return the citizens to normal life. Nevertheless, it is necessary to admit that they are not equal in terms of effectiveness. The comparison of the US attitude towards ALS and the UK attitude towards MND prove this. The US strategy of ALS treatment is mainly based on the medical procedures. It limits the sphere of positive influence. In other words, patients need to recover not only from the physical perspective but also from the mental one. In most cases, patients who suffer from ALS in the USA cannot live the ordinary life as common people do. They cannot but apply for special payment system as compared to UK patients. Along with that, they cannot apply for a job in the USA. In this term, the UK shows an example to follow. In this country, patients with MND receive social and psychological support in addition to the medical one. Most of the people with MND can possess certain rights, namely possibility to employ, to ask for additional treatment and budget, and to ask for space room in the houses. One may admit that the UK specialists consider MND patients as common people paying attention to their demands as well as preferences. In fact, mental illness is the most dangerous disease in the contemporary world. The disabled cannot totally enjoy their life since their actions are limited. In addition, they may experience inappropriate attitude not only on the part of unknown people but also of native ones. For these reasons, it is paramount to provide sufficient treatment for ALS or MND in every developed country. Every patient has a right to obtain free of charge treatment since they cannot totally satisfy their demands themselves. Consequently, more charity organizations need to be established. It will help not only treat the disabled but make the society stronger. That is to say, cooperation influences communities’ behavior.


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