Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the baseball great who died of it in 1942. Gehrig’s celebrity status generated some public awareness about this relatively obscure but devastating disease.
ALS is a progressive and ultimately fatal neurological disease that attacks the motor neurons in the brain, brain stem and spinal cord. The resulting motor neuron loss causes increasingly debilitating paralysis as the muscles of the body waste away. Death comes when victims lose critical functions such as the ability to swallow and ultimately, to breathe.
ALS is particularly insidious because the intellect remains intact throughout the course of the disease. Victims are cruelly aware of their fate as they gradually lose the ability to control their muscles, to communicate, and eventually to breathe.
An estimated 30,000 Americans, alive and apparently well today, will die from ALS. ALS can strike anyone—of any age, ethnic origin or gender. Approximately 90% of cases appear sporadic, while 5-10% of cases are familial, occurring more than once in a family. ALS typically appears in middle age and most victims die within two to five years of the onset.
The cause of ALS is unknown. There is no known effective preventative treatment, and there is no known cure. There is, however, promising research currently underway. Your support can help advance this important work to find a cure for ALS.
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