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No one left behind: ALS Clinic uncovers racial disparities in diagnostic delays

No One Left Behind ALS Clinic VCU Article

Researchers at the VCU Health ALS Clinic found that Black patients in Virginia experienced longer delays to being diagnosed with ALS than white patients. Now, they are focused on finding solutions.

Tony and Sherry Easter led an active and adventurous lifestyle. The couple filled their years with raising two children, traveling to new places, exploring the local restaurant scene and playing an active role in their church.

Then, in the summer of 2019, Tony began to develop a limp and experience a sharp pain in his back.In August 2021, after two years of meeting with specialists and extensive medical exams, Tony was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

For people  diagnosed with ALS, receiving care quickly is incredibly important, as some treatments are closed off as options once the disease progresses to a certain point. However, receiving a diagnosis for ALS can be a very long process, as was the case for Tony. By the time a patient reports their first symptoms, studies show it takes on average 10 to 16 months before they are given a formal ALS diagnosis.

According to a recent study led by the VCU Health ALS Clinic, the amount of time it takes a patient to receive a diagnosis can also vary significantly by race. By analyzing more than five years of patient data, the research team revealed that Black patients experienced 55% longer diagnostic delays compared to white patients. The findings were presented last fall at the 2022 Annual Northeast Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (NEALS) Consortium Meeting.

Please read the full article courtesy of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health.

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