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Resource General ALS Terms & Acronyms


Forum Supporter
Jul 29, 2017
Here is a listing of some of the most common acronyms and abbreviations you are likely to encounter on this forum or when dealing with topics related to motor neuron diseases.

General ALS Terms & Acronyms

AACAugmentative and Alternative Communication device. A Tobii or similar device used for communication
ABGArterial Blood Gas. Blood test that provides many results, including CO2, O2 and pH. Blood is drawn from artery
ADAlzheimer's Disease
AFOAnkle-Foot Orthotic. An appliance to compensate for foot drop.
ALSAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease. The most common Motor Neuron Disease, characterized by loss of both UMNs and LMNs
ALSAALS Association
AVAPSAverage Volume Assured Pressure Support. Ventilator technology

BADBrachial Amyotrophic Diplegia, or flail arm syndrome. Refers to a lower motor neuron condition affecting just the upper extremities.
BFSBenign Fasciculation Syndrome. NOT a Motor Neuon Disease (MND) but frequently mistaken for one by laymen
BiPAPBi-Level Positive Airway Pressure. A type of noninvasive ventilation which administers one pressure for inhalation and another for exhalation. Used for reducing work of breathing in ALS.
ButtonSlang / generic term for feeding tube with no external tube, requires extension tube for use (see Dangler)
bvFTDBehavioral FTD. A variant of FTD characterized by personality and behavior aberrations

cALSCaregiver for someone with ALS
CO2Carbon Dioxide. A gas that can buildup and cause health issues if a pALS cannot breathe effectively
Comm. AssistantCommunications Assistant. A specially trained person who facilitates communication using Telecommunications Relay Services
Cough AssistA machine that simulates a cough to assist in removing mucus from the lungs. See Vest
CPAPContinuous positive airway pressure. Used in sleep apnea treatment; generally not for ALS, but the masks are the same. See BiPAP

DanglerSlang / generic term for feeding tube with long external tube. See Button
DAVDisabled American Veterans. A service organization which assists US Veterans. See PVA

EMGElectromyogram. Tests muscles.
Enteral foodLiquid nutritional formula for tube feeding e.g. Boost, Isosource, Liquid Hope

FALSFamilial (hereditary) ALS
FTDFrontotemporal Dementia
FVCForced vital capacity. This is one of the measurements made with pfts.

G-tubeGastrostomy tube. A feeding tube inserted in the stomach.
GJ-tubeAs the name implies, a combination of a G- and a Jtube.

HCOHearing Carry Over, a type of Telecommunications Relay Service used by people who cannot speak but can hear
HMEHumidifier Moisture Exchange. A humidification method used in Ventilators, less efficient than a heated chamber
IMIntra Muscular. An injection into a muscle

IP RelayA type of Telecommunications Relay Service using a website for text input
IVIntra Venous. An injection into a vein

J-tubeJejunostomy Tube. A feeding tube inserted in the jejunum.

LMNLower Motor Neuron. Refers to nerve cells in the brain stem and spinal cord. Loss of these neurons leads to muscle weakness and atrophy. See UMN

MDAMuscular Dystrophy Association
MIC-KEYBrand name of a button-style G-Tube
MMNMulti Focal Motor Neuron Nephropathy
MNDMotor Neuron Disease. Refers to a group of conditions characterized by loss of the nerves that control skeletal muscles, e.g. ALS, pba, etc.
MRIMagnetic Resonance Imaging

NCSNerve Conduction Study. Tests nerves.
NCVNerve Conduction Velocity. Basically the same thing as ncs.
NIVNon Invasive Ventilation. Use of a vent via nose and/or mouth mask. Does not use Tracheostomy
NP-tubeNasopharyngeal feeding tube. A temporary feeding tube routed through the nose and down the throat to the stomach
NPOnil per os. Latin for nothing by mouth (i.e. No food or drink) . See PO

O2Oxygen. A gas necessary for life but not to be administered to pALS without adequate ventilation. See Ventilator
OTOccupational therapy or occupational therapist

pALSPerson (or people) living with ALS
PBAPsuedobulbar affect. Inappropriate excessive laughter/ crying. Often can be helped by nuedexta
PBPProgressive Bulbar Palsy
PCPPrimary care provider. Generally this would be an internist, family or general physician, or family or adult nurse practitioner or physician assistant.
PEGPercutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. A method of inserting a G-tube using an endoscope under full anesthesia.
PFTPulmonary Function Test
PIGPer-Oral Image Guided gastrostomy. A hybrid method of inserting a G-tube. Least common method.
PLSPrimary lateral sclerosis. A disorder characterized by degeneration of only upper motor neurons.
PMAProgressive muscle atrophy. A disorder characterized by degeneration of only lower motor neurons.
POPer os. Latin for by mouth. See NPO
PPAPrimary Progressive Aphasia. A variant of FTD which degrades the speech and communications part of the brain
PTPhysical therapy or physical therapist
PVAParalyzed Veterans of America. A service organization which assists US Veterans. See DAV
PWCPower Wheelchair

RDRegistered Dietitian
RIGRadiologically Inserted Gastrostomy. A method of inserting a G-tube using interventional radiology with minimal anesthesia.
ROMRange Of Motion
RTRespiratory therapy or respiratory therapist

SALSSporadic (non-hereditary) ALS. The most common type of ALS
SCISpinal Cord Injury
Serum CO2Blood test that provides CO2 content in blood. Blood is drawn from vein
SLPSpeech and language pathologist (speech therapist)
SMASpinobulbar Muscular Atrophy, Also Known As Kennedy Disease.
STSSpeech-To-Speech, a type of Telecommunications Relay Service used by people with speech defects
SVCSlow Vital Capacity. Another pft measuring quantity of air in a normal inhalation / exhalation

TPNTotal parenteral nutrition is the feeding of a person intravenously, bypassing the usual process of eating and digestion
TrilogyBrand of Ventilator
TRSTelecommunications Relay Service . Free, nationwide service that allows people with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate over a telephone or a website with the assistance of a specially trained Communications Assistant
TTYText Telephone, an application or device that relays typed text to a Communications Assistant for Telecommunications Relay Services
TubieSlang for person with feeding tube

UMNUpper motor neuron. Refers to nerve cells in the motor cortex and lateral corticospinal tracts of the brain. Loss of these neurons leads to spasticity and poor coordination. See LMN

Ventilatoraka Vent. A device used to provide air when breathing is impaired. See CPAP, BiPAP and Trilogy
VestAka Percussion Vest, Oscillation Vest. An air powered vest used to loosen mucus in the lungs. Often used in sequence with Cough Assist
VSEDVoluntary Stop Eating and Drinking. An acronym for choosing to starve to death
VSOVeterans’ Server Officer. Represents, assists and advises veterans With VA issues. See DAV, PVA


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Apr 24, 2003
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