According to US population studies, approximately 6,000 people are diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a degenerative motor function disease that attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, ultimately weakening the muscles and resulting in death each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that more than 20,000 Americans may be living with ALS at any given time.  Most patients will develop the condition between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. However, cases of the disease occur in persons in their twenties and thirties. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 people have the disease at any given time. According to the ALS CARE Database, 60% of the people with ALS are men.

A technological breakthrough which recently landed in the UAE to assist patients afflicted with ALS and/or Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) with their breathing is the Diaphragm Pacing Machine. The machine is surgically attached to the patient’s diaphragm via a series of electrodes and remains outside the patient’s body where he/she can manually control it.

“What is remarkable about this machine is that it will give us the chance to really enhance the quality of life of so many of our patients in the UAE who are afflicted with ALS or SCI. Unlike the traditional mechanical ventilation which is big, heavy, and noisy, this new technology allows the patient to be more mobile and independent, improves the ability to talk, and restores the sense of smell and taste.  Since it is minimal invasive, it decreases the chances of infection,” said Dr. Nehad Nabil Halawa, Specialist – Anesthesia and Deputy Medical Director at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Burjeel Hospital is now the first and only hospital in the UAE to acquire the Diaphragm Pacing System. A Continuing Medical Education (CME) lecture was held at the hospital with a renowned General Surgeon from US, Dr. Raymond P. Onders, to discuss the revolutionary technique.

Dr. Onders is a Professor of Surgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center known for his extensive research and work dedicated to treating patients with ALS. He was the lead principal investigator for the trial leading to FDA approval for patients with ALS in 2011.

“Dr. Onders is a remarkable surgeon who has spent the last 17 years of his career researching and working on treatments for patients with ALS and SCI. He has a remarkable history associated with raising awareness on the disease and its impact to society. We are deeply honored to have him in our CME lecture at Burjeel,” said Dr. Halawa.


About Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi:

Burjeel Hospital is Abu Dhabi’s premier private healthcare facility providing world-class, specialized and superior healthcare complemented by a warm and personalized human touch to the growing population of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

A unit of the VPS Healthcare, Burjeel Hospital opened for patients in April 2012 as a Tertiary hospital under the auspices of the Health Authority for Abu Dhabi.  At the core of the organization is a team of exceptionally skilled and highly experienced health professionals, collaborating as multidisciplinary teams with Guests and their families as the main focus, to provide the best healthcare experience. 

Burjeel Hospital received the prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation in June 2013 – 15 months after starting operations.  Currently, the hospital is affiliated with some of the world’s best healthcare institutions for its center of excellence and is now becoming a renowned center of referral for Cardiovascular, Orthopaedics, Ophthalmology, Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Reproductive Medicine and many more specialties handling complex laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgeries.

The hospital has full-fledged pharmacy, laboratory, and radiology units to serve Guests at any time of the day. Burjeel also houses a restaurant and a coffee shop, serving the finest and healthiest cuisines from across the world. Combining all-round specialization and expertise with most advanced technology, Burjeel offers the best in diagnostic, curative, as well as preventive aspects of healthcare.


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