Neuromuscular Disease and Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence - An ALS Association Certified Center

Our Center

The Stony Brook University Neuromuscular Disease and Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence - An ALS Association Certified Center provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for patients of all ages with neuromuscular disorders. It is not always clear what causes neuromuscular diseases, although genetics and immune system disorders are thought to play a role. Symptoms such as cramps, pain, weakness, muscle wasting, numbness and difficulty moving can be frightening, but we are here to help.

We are experts in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), neuropathy, myopathy, myasthenia gravis, and more. You and your family are welcome to come see us for advice, a second opinion, diagnosis, or ongoing care. Our goal is to provide best-in-class care while decreasing your symptoms, increasing your mobility, and improving your quality of life. We will do so in an environment of compassion and mutual respect.

The Stony Brook Difference

Being a patient at the Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence - An ALS Association Certified Center allows you access to exceptional care from a talented, experienced group of physicians from multiple specialties. You don't have to go to Manhattan -- the best care is right in Suffolk County. Our multidisciplinary approach increases the odds of successful therapy and ensures that you receive support in all aspects of your condition. Unlike many other clinics, we are equipped to provide long-term care and we offer biopsy (sampling and analysis) of nerve, muscle, and skin cells. Our advanced technology helps us to make a definitive diagnosis and then create the most individualized treatment plan possible for you.

Education is part of our mission, and we offer frequent support groups and facilitated meetings for you and your family. We understand that ALS affects you in a variety of ways, and we encourage open discussion and question and answer sessions that include the entire family. We have counselors and social workers available at all times to talk about anything from financial concerns to sexual problems. We are involved in societies and associations that matter to us as well. Our physicians often speak at local chapter meetings of national organizations, such as the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America and the ALS Association. We invite you to participate.

In 2009, our ALS clinic -- led by Dr. Rahman Pourmand -- was certified as the 34th Center of Excellence in the country by the ALS Association. We are honored to receive this distinction, which recognizes our collaborative approach and our ability to provide the highest quality care for people with ALS and their families. Within a span of a 3.5-hour visit, our ALS patients see each member of our multidisciplinary team, including occupational therapists, physical therapists, nurses, speech pathologists, and dieticians. We base our care on a tailored treatment plan just for you.


Our diagnostic approach includes:

  • Neurological evaluation and examination;

  • Blood and urine studies;

  • Cerebrospinal fluid examination (spinal tap);

  • X ray, ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which provide detailed pictures of your brain and spinal cord;

  • Nerve, muscle, and skin biopsy;

  • Nerve conduction studies, in which we stimulate your nerves and test their ability to send signals;

  • Electromyography (EMG), which involves testing the electrical activity of your muscles; and

  • Genetic studies.

Our therapeutic services include:

  • Physical therapy;

  • Speech therapy;

  • Occupational therapy;

  • Botulinum toxin (Botox�) injections;

  • Drug therapy;

  • Gastronomy tube placement (ALS) as an inpatient at Stony Brook University Hospital, which helps maintain proper nutritional intake; and

  • Thymectomy (Myasthenia Gravis), in which we remove your thymus gland, which regulates the immune system.


Supporting Specialists

  • Theresa Imperato, RN and ALS Center Nurse Coordinator

  • Lorraine Danowski, MS, RD Dietician

  • Carol Grosch, OT

  • Maureen O'Rourke, PT

  • Kathleen McCloskey, MA, CCC-SLP Speech Therapist

  • Geoffrey, O'Connell, CSW Social Worker

  • Natalie Sachman and Susan Andersen Respiratory Therapists

Patient Resources