Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) is the most severe disease out of a group of degenerative diseases that affect the nervous system.
ALS destroys motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and as a result, within a period of three to five years, the muscles in the limbs and those responsible for speaking, swallowing and breathing are severely weakened, eventually resulting in total paralysis.
Treatment is primarily focused on quality of life and generally includes physical therapy, as well as therapies for swallowing, speech and breathing, in addition to emotional support. Many different forms of treatment help alleviate the symptoms associated with ALS, which include tightening of the muscles, shortness of breath, saliva build-up, pains, lack of sleep, and emotional distress. There are also many devices and accessories which help improve the quality of life for those with ALS and enable them to move and communicate.
The Healthcare System
Medications and Food
- ALS patients are recognized as chronically ill and are therefore entitled to an exemption from payment for medications beyond the prescribed monthly limit.
- Patients are also entitled to a Payment Ceiling for Medical Foods/Nutraceuticals due to their illness.
- The Ministry of Health assists with the funding of rehabilitative and mobility equipment. For details, see:
Designated ALS Clinics
- Israel has two designated ALS clinics headed by expert neurologists. The clinics perform diagnoses and assessment of a patient's level of functioning, and provide an inter-disciplinary response while offering ongoing monitoring of patients and symptomatic treatment to improve their quality of life.
- Moreover, from time to time, clinical trials for ALS patients are conducted in these clinics.
- A social worker from The Israel ALS Research Association (IsrA.L.S.) serves as the social worker in both of the ALS clinics, providing support in the clinic and for patients' families.
- Clinical visits are covered by the patient's health plan with the appropriate Form 17 (payment voucher from the health plan).
- Clinic contact information:
- Ichilov ALS Clinic (Tel Aviv Medical Center): Sarah - 03-6973689
- Hadassah Ein Kerem Clinic: Tzila - 050-7874692
General Disability Pension
- A General Disability Pension is paid to those who are unable to earn a living due to disability. ALS patients are usually defined at 100% disability. If an ALS patient's disability has been defined as lower than 100%, s/he may appeal the General Disability Medical Committee decision. If the patient's condition has deteriorated, a request for a Reexamination of Disability Pension Eligibility may be submitted.
- Even patients who currently work and earn a salary should apply for a disability pension, as the process is quite long. Then, if necessary, it will be possible to claim entitlement to the pension in a shorter period of time, as the information will already be in the National Insurance Institute’s system.
- For more information, see: Disability Pension and Related Benefits.
- The Mobility Benefit is a series of benefits for those who have difficulty with mobility (walking, driving, etc.). A Ministry of Health committee determines the degree of mobile disability. Based on the determined degree of disability, the patient is entitled to purchase up to an 1800 cc vehicle without having to pay import taxes on the vehicle through a standing loan which becomes a grant after five years.
- Alternatively, the patient may be eligible for a commercial vehicle that is fit for a wheelchair lift. In this case, the patient will pay 20% of the vehicle's price and get the required equipment for free.
- ALS patients are usually ascribed 100% disability. The type of vehicle (private or commercial), is dependent upon the patient's medical condition. It is recommended to insist and demand the commercial vehicle from the committee, since doctors are familiar with the development of the disease and it is best to get a vehicle that will suit the patient's needs in the future.
- A monthly mobility benefit is paid to the patient, regardless of whether or not a vehicle is purchased, so it is worthwhile to go to the committee in any event.
Special Services Benefit (Attendance Allowance)
- The Special Services Benefit (Attendance Allowance) is paid to patients who need a lot of help from another person in order to perform daily activities (such as: dressing, eating, bathing and hygiene, and mobility in the home). An examination of the need for help from others with house chores has also been added.
- If there is interest to Employing a Foreign Nursing Care Worker, it is recommended to submit the claim for the benefit as soon as possible, because the approval process is lengthy, as the process of employing a foreign worker can take months.
- For more information, see Special Services Benefit (Attendance Allowance) and Related Benefits.
Long Term Care Benefit
- The Long-Term Care Benefit is given to people who have reached retirement age, live within the community, and require assistance for day-to-day activities.
- The benefit is given through financial assistance benefits, but in specific cases, one can receive a Monetary Long-Term Care Benefit to Hire a Caregiver.
- For someone with disabilities who works, it is recommended to check eligibility for an income tax exemption.
- Local authorities grant a Municipal Property Tax (Arnona) Discount for People with Disabilities.
- Individuals with movement or functioning limitations are entitled to financial assistance to pay for interior and exterior housing modifications or renovations.
- For more information, see Housing for People with Disabilities.
- ATLAS – The Israel ALS/MND Association
- Gisha L'Chaim
- IsrA.L.S. - The Israel ALS Research Association
- Meshi - For families of children suffering from muscular dystrophy
- ADI - Duchenne Israel
- Little Steps - Support for children with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy and their families
- Life's Door (Tishkofet Maagan)
- Prize for Life- To promote the study of ALS and to increase awareness of the disease
- Orphant Israel A site dedicated to rare diseases
- Click here for a comprehensive categorized listing of healthcare organizations offering assistance and support.
- Original content was based on the ATLAS - The Israel ALS/MND Association website and the IsrA.L.S. - The Israel ALS Research Association website.
- Original translation done by the The Shira Pransky Project as part of a grant from The Fellowship Fund.