ALS- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Lou Gehrig’s disease- Yankee B-Ball player 1903-1941
Neurodegenerative disease- Unknown cause breaks tissue down in nervous system.

Motor Neurons- they control muscle movement
Affects nerves from the brain to the spinal cord (upper motor neurons) then the lower spinal cord (lower motor neurons) which control muscle movement. With this disease, for unknown reasons, these neurons die, meaning a progressive loss of the ability to move nearly any of the muscles in the body.

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Lou Gehrig’s disease affects voluntary muscles, controlled by conscious thought, such as the arm, leg, and trunk muscles.

ALS DOES NOT affect the heart muscle, or the “smooth” muscle of the digestive system, bladder, and other internal organs. Most keep eye movement as well.

“Amyotrophic”- means the loss of muscle bulk.

“Lateral” indicates the spinal cord being affected.

“Sclerosis” describes hardened tissue that develops in the place of healthy nerves.

50,000 approximately people in the US, 5,000 new cases each year.

Onset between ages 40-70, usually.

Men have a slightly higher chance of developing ALS.

Normally, neurons in the spinal cord and brain convey messages from the brain to muscles to give movement to the arms, legs, trunk, neck, and head. When the motor neurons die, the muscles can’t move, with weakness in result. Loss of bulk is also a symptom.
Loss of Lower motor neurons can make twitching.

Two forms are known- Familial and sporadic.

Familial accounts for about 10% of all Lou Gehrig’s cases.

Sporadic LGD has no known cause.

The earliest sign of LGD is weakness in arms or legs, and the throat and mouth muscles.-Speech slurred, hard to chew and swallow. Other early signs are twitching and muscle loss.

Later symptoms lead to the loss of the ability to walk, use arms and hands, to speak clearly or at all, to swallow, and to hold the head up. Eventually coughing and breathing become difficult.

An EMG is used for diagnosis.

THE IS NO CURE FOR LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE- No treatment can significantly alter its course. Amino-acid therapies may slow down the progression.

Lou Gehrig’s disease progresses rapidly, and leads to death from respiratory infection within three to five years in most cases. About 10% of people with ALS live longer than eight years.

Prevention- There is no known way to prevent Lou Gehrig’s disease or to alter its course.


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