What is A.L.S. ?
What is A.L.S. ?
A.L.S. stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a neurobiological disorder that attacks the motor neurons that enable communication between the brain and control of a person's voluntary muscles. No one knows the cause of ALS. There are many researchers with different theories.
What happens inside?
I will use an example with something almost common to everyone these days, a cell phone. When you have a good connection, you can speak and hear the other person clear from coast to coast. You can do this because of the network of towers across the nation. With A.L.S., the motor neurons are the towers. They stop receiving signals and they control the muscles. The body still finds way to get through to muscles but it is delayed. It is like calling from Florida to California, but by way of New York, Chicago, Denver then Los Angeles. People cannot live without water and muscles cannot not live without communication. Once the motor neuron that controls a muscle group stops receiving messages, the muscles stop working.
A.L.S. starts in different areas of the body, but continues to spread. The tongue is a big muscle and eating gets difficult and weight loss happens even with feeding tube. We think of breathing as involuntary, but we can control our breath. Eventually, when it reaches the diaphragm muscle, breathing stops without artificial support. There is no cure. In 50% of people the average life span is 3-5 years after diagnosis. Only 8% live over 10 years and there is even a question on quality of life for many are on permanent ventilation. No two cases are alike. Progression can be rapid, and then it can level off, andn level off, and then start again. .