Local public broadcasting TV station KVIE recently held a community preview for its latest documentary — “Beyond the Ice Bucket Challenge” — about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This rare and progressive neurodegenerative disease causes patients to lose muscle control and, eventually, the ability to walk, talk, eat or breathe, while their cognitive skills remain intact. It is typically fatal within five years of diagnosis.
Produced as part of KVIE's Viewfinder series, the program features physicians Nanette Joyce and Ryan Armour, director and co-director of the UC Davis Multidisciplinary ALS Clinic, along with patient Pete Richards and his wife, Lachi Richards.
The Richards also were part of a post-screening panel discussion about life with ALS, technologies and tools that aid daily activities, the major boost in awareness due to the “ice bucket challenge” and the ongoing need for research on treatments that can slow or even reverse the disease.
ALS is often referred to as "Lou Gehrig’s disease" for the New York Yankee who died of it in 1941.
Today, many San Francisco 49ers promote awareness and fundraising, given that four former players have died of ALS. Shonta Scoggins, widow of Eric Scoggins, spoke on the panel about her gratitude for the support of her husband’s teammates together with her hope, for the Richards and others currently dealing with the disease, that treatment options will continue to expand beyond those that were available to her husband.
The documentary title refers to the 2014 campaign that involved people recording and posting videos of themselves pouring ice water over their heads, nominating others to do the same and then donating to the ALS Association if they could. A new "pepper challenge" works in much the same way, but with participants eating the hottest pepper they can tolerate. Funds generated from the campaigns support research and patient-care services.
An ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence, the UC Davis Multidisciplinary ALS Clinic unites clinicians in neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, pulmonary medicine, speech therapy, nutrition, social work and other specialties to provide comprehensive treatment in one location. The clinic also is on the forefront of offering the latest clinical trials. More information is available online.
"Beyond the Ice Bucket Challenge” was sponsored in part by UC Davis Health and premieres on KVIE at 7 p.m on Wednesday, June 20. Visit KVIE.org for repeat and online viewing options.