What is ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease)?

What is ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease)?

Through the power of social media, the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” has brought massive attention to an often times overlooked but devastating disease.  But understanding ALS and increasing its awareness can be just as invaluable as donations towards finding a cure. 
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – JA5881

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is often known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and affects neurons which control voluntary movements.  This motor neuron disease causes nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord  to degenerate and lose their connection to muscle fibers throughout the body.  When muscles can no longer be stimulated, they become progressively weaker and inactive, eventually leading to muscular atrophy.  Patients begin losing muscle mass and coordination, the ability to walk or use their arms, and as well as develop difficulty breathing, speaking, and swallowing.

However ALS does not affect involuntary muscles (such as the heart or smooth muscles), a person’s senses (taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing), or their ability to think.  Since there is no cure, most treatment can only slow down the progression of the disease and provide supportive care for the individual.

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