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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Symptomatic treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, January 2017
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (91st percentile)
  • Above-average Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (64th percentile)

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16 X users
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Symptomatic treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, January 2017
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd011776.pub2
Pubmed ID

Louisa Ng, Fary Khan, Carolyn A Young, Mary Galea


Motor neuron disease (MND), which is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), causes a wide range of symptoms but the evidence base for the effectiveness of the symptomatic treatment therapies is limited. To summarise the evidence from Cochrane Systematic Reviews of all symptomatic treatments for MND. We searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) on 15 November 2016 for systematic reviews of symptomatic treatments for MND. We assessed the methodological quality of the included reviews using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) tool and the GRADE approach. We followed standard Cochrane study (review) selection and data extraction procedures. We reported findings narratively and in tables. We included nine Cochrane Systematic Reviews of interventions to treat symptoms in people with MND. Three were empty reviews with no included randomised controlled trials (RCTs); however, all three reported on non-RCT evidence and the remaining six included mostly one or two studies. We deemed all of the included reviews of high methodological quality. Drug therapy for painThere is no RCT evidence in a Cochrane Systematic Review exploring the efficacy of drug therapy for pain in MND. Treatment for crampsThere is evidence (13 RCTs, N = 4012) that for the treatment of cramps in MND, compared to placebo:- memantine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are probably ineffective (moderate-quality evidence);- vitamin E may have little or no effect (low-quality evidence); and- the effects of L-threonine, gabapentin, xaliproden, riluzole, and baclofen are uncertain as the evidence is either very low quality or the trial specified the outcome but did not report numerical data.The review reported adverse effects of riluzole, but it is not clear whether other interventions had adverse effects. Treatment for spasticityIt is uncertain whether an endurance-based exercise programme improved spasticity or quality of life, measured at three months after the programme, as the quality of evidence is very low (1 RCT, comparison "usual activities", N = 25). The review did not evaluate other approaches, such as use of baclofen as no RCTs were available. Mechanical ventilation for supporting respiratory functionNon-invasive ventilation (NIV) probably improves median survival and quality of life in people with respiratory insufficiency and normal to moderately impaired bulbar function compared to standard care, and improves quality of life but not survival for people with poor bulbar function (1 RCT, N = 41, moderate-quality evidence; a second RCT did not provide data). The review did not evaluate other approaches such as tracheostomy-assisted ('invasive') ventilation, or assess timing of NIV initiation. Treatment for sialorrhoeaA single session of botulinum toxin type B injections to parotid and submandibular glands probably improves sialorrhoea and quality of life at up to 4 weeks compared to placebo injections, but not at 8 or 12 weeks after the injections (moderate-quality evidence from 1 placebo-controlled RCT, N = 20). The review authors found no trials of other approaches. Enteral tube feeding for supporting nutritionThere is no RCT evidence in a Cochrane Systematic Review to support benefit or harms of enteral tube feeding in supporting nutrition in MND. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulationIt is uncertain whether repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) improves disability or limitation in activity in MND in comparison with sham rTMS (3 RCTs, very low quality evidence, N = 50). Therapeutic exerciseThere is evidence that exercise may improve disability in MND at three months after the exercise programme, but not quality of life, in comparison with "usual activities" or "usual care" including stretching (2 RCTs, low-quality evidence, N = 43). Multidisciplinary careThere is no RCT evidence in a Cochrane Systematic Review to demonstrate any benefit or harm for multidisciplinary care in MND.None of the reviews, other than the review of treatment for cramps, reported that adverse events occurred. However, the trials were too small for reliable adverse event reporting. This overview has highlighted the lack of robust evidence in Cochrane Systematic Reviews on interventions to manage symptoms resulting from MND. It is important to recognise that clinical trials may fail to demonstrate efficacy of an intervention for reasons other than a true lack of efficacy, for example because of insufficient statistical power, the wrong choice of dose, insensitive outcome measures or inappropriate participant eligibility. The trials were mostly too small to reliably assess adverse effects of the treatments. The nature of MND makes it difficult to research clinically accepted or recommended practice, regardless of the level of evidence supporting the practice. It would not be ethical, for example, to design a placebo-controlled trial for treatment of pain in MND or to withhold multidisciplinary care where such care is available. It is therefore highly unlikely that there will ever be classically designed placebo-controlled RCTs in these areas.We need more research with appropriate study designs, robust methodology, and of sufficient duration to address the changing needs-of people with MND and their caregivers-associated with MND disease progression and mortality. There is a significant gap in studies assessing the effectiveness of interventions for symptoms relating to MND, such as pseudobulbar emotional lability and cognitive and behavioural difficulties. Future studies should use appropriate outcome measures that are reliable, have internal and external validity, and are sensitive to change in what is being measured (such as quality of life).

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 16 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 598 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Spain 1 <1%
Unknown 597 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 91 15%
Student > Bachelor 83 14%
Researcher 55 9%
Student > Ph. D. Student 47 8%
Other 31 5%
Other 91 15%
Unknown 200 33%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 152 25%
Nursing and Health Professions 81 14%
Neuroscience 29 5%
Psychology 18 3%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 17 3%
Other 74 12%
Unknown 227 38%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 20. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 03 August 2023.
All research outputs
of 24,703,339 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 12,960 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 431,403 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 274 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 24,703,339 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 92nd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,960 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 34.9. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 69% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 431,403 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 91% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 274 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 64% of its contemporaries.