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Praying for Flight Ward – Motor Neuron Disease Care Center of the Zhongxiao Branch

       Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is a general term for a group of diseases caused by degeneration of motor neurons, resulting in gradual weakening and dystrophy of the body’s muscles. About 10% of the MNDs are hereditary; the causes of sporadic MNDs are currently unknown and could be related to genetic factors, environment, viral infection, carcinoma and autoimmune factors. There are currently no drugs that can effectively cure MNDs.

       On October 15, 2006, the first care center specialized for care of MND patients in Asia – the
“Praying for Flight Ward” – was established in the Zhongxiao Branch of Taipei City Hospital. With tremendous support from the superintendent, Dr. Chiu Wen-hsiang, the care center was founded by Dr. Huang Chi-hsun to provide professional medical care for these medically disadvantaged patients. The care center has since accumulated much experience on specialized care for these patients, and continues to provide on-the-job training for the medical care teams, aiming for better quality of care service.

       Currently, the most common causes of hospitalization at the care center are (1) infectious syndromes: including pneumonia, urinary tract infection and cellulitis; (2) respiratory care: patients experiencing respiratory difficulty are first assessed for the causes. After determining whether the condition was induced by acute issues or disease progression, a respiratory therapist will perform a functional assessment, breathing care and related health education; (3) percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG): gastric feeding tube may be considered if patients start to experience swallowing difficulties. Since the patients have difficulty attending routine medical care, the center will also provide services to address patients’ special medical needs, such as resolving fluid buildup in the middle ear, teeth cleansing, and chronic metabolic syndromes. Patients will be visited by specialist physicians for medical diagnosis and treatments. For 13 years, the ward has served many MND patients, and will continue to provide better care services in the future.