By Doug Nadvornick, College of Medical Sciences

Potter-80SPOKANE, Wash. – A deluge of summer activity around amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has brought attention to the fatal neurodegenerative condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The momentum will continue with the eighth annual ALS Forum 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, in the Academic Center, Room 20, at Washington State University Spokane. Hosted by the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, the event is free to the public.

WSU President Elson S. Floyd was among those taking the Ice Bucket Challenge this summer for ALS awareness.

Associate professor Nancy Potter and two speech-language pathology graduate students have invited nine patients with ALS and their caregivers to share their stories. Their mission is to talk about what it’s like to live with the disease every day – how it affects patients and their families’ daily routines and relationships.

The summer’s Ice Bucket Challenge social media phenomenon brought national attention to ALS and more than $100 million in donations to the ALS Association (ALSA) for research, patient care and advocacy, something Potter called “an incredible gift” to patients.

“The crazy videos and buckets of ice-cold water have accomplished more than years of work by dedicated people associated with the ALSA,” she said.

But she said there’s more work to do to tell the human story about the disease’s effect on those who have it. She hopes the forum will result in understanding and improved care by future healthcare professionals.

For example, “many patients with ALS have poor diaphragm function and cannot lie down flat and continue to breathe,” Potter said. “This is critical knowledge for dentists, dental hygienists, physicians and physical therapists.”


Nancy Potter, WSU Speech and Hearing Sciences, 509-368-6894,