ALS

Category:
Neurodegenerative Disease

Prevalence:
In The US: 30,000

Also Called:
Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Resources:
Mayo Clinic

U.S. National Library of Medicine

WebMD

 

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ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment – “No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.

Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their demise. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe. The motor nerves that are affected when you have ALS are the motor neurons that provide voluntary movements and muscle control. Examples of voluntary movements are making the effort to reach for a smart phone or step off a curb. These actions are controlled by the muscles in the arms and legs.

There are two different types of ALS, sporadic and familial. Sporadic which is the most common form of the disease in the U.S., is 90 – 95 percent of all cases. It may affect anyone, anywhere. Familial ALS (FALS) accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all cases in the U.S. Familial ALS means the disease is inherited. In those families, there is a 50% chance each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and may develop the disease. French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot discovered the disease in 1869.

ALS In The News

Scientists Discover ALS Disease Mechanism

Read More    published: 09/04/2018

Young Students’ Experiment Project Became So Successful That It Was Sent To The ISS

Read More    published: 07/30/2018

Ice Bucket Challenge 2018 for ALS at Yonkers Raceway announced: Aug. 4

Read More    published: 07/12/2018

Huntley Man To Cycle 270 Miles For Charity

Read More    published: 06/11/2018

ALS: Immune Cells May Slow Disease Progression

Read More    published: 05/24/2018

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