Neurology

What is ALS?

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease or Motor Neuron Disease, is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that affects motor neurons. Motor neurons run from the brain through the brainstem or spinal cord to muscles that control movement in the arms, legs, chest, throat, and mouth.

Generally, motor neuron disease is categorized in one of two ways: Upper motor neuron disease affects nerves in the brain, while lower motor neuron disease affects nerves coming from the spinal cord or brainstem. Learn more.

Symptoms of ALS

Symptoms of very-early-stage ALS, which may be so minor that they are frequently overlooked, can include:

  • Muscle weakness in one or more of the following: hands, arms, legs or the muscles of speech, swallowing or breathing
  • Twitching (fasciculation) and cramping of muscles, especially those in the hands and feet
  • Impairment of the use of the arms and legs
  • "Thick speech" and difficulty in projecting the voice. Learn more

Who does ALS affect?

Based on U.S. population studies, a little more than 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year, approximately 15 new cases per day. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. Learn more

What causes ALS?

Although the cause of ALS is not completely understood, recent research suggests that multiple complex factors contribute to the death of motor neurons. Learn more

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of ALS is difficult, in part because there is no single test that confirms the presence of the disease. Moreover, since many neurologic diseases have symptoms that mimic those of ALS, itís necessary to rule out these other conditions through a clinical examination and a series of diagnostic tests. Learn more

Treatment Options

However, Riluzole, an FDA-approved drug  has been shown to modestly slow the progression of ALS. In addition, there are several promising clinical trials being conducted worldwide that are yielding important information on how to combat this disease. Learn more

Additional Reading

You can find more information on ALS at the following sites.

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