What is ALS?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes muscle weakness, paralysis, and ultimately, respiratory failure.
What are the effects of ALS?
ALS attacks certain cells in the brain and the spinal cord needed to keep our muscles moving. Early signs and symptoms of ALS include muscle cramps and twitching, weakness in the extremities and difficulty speaking or swallowing. As the disease progresses, though, it is characterized by:
The inability to move any part of your body
The inability to speak or communicate with anything but your eyes
Complete reliance on a feeding tube for nutrition
The senses, including hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch, are not affected by ALS. In most cases, people with ALS do not experience difficulties in bowel, bladder or sexual function.
There are an estimated 450,000 people worldwide living with ALS. Every 90 minutes, someone else is diagnosed. But most people with ALS only live 2-5 years after their first signs of disease
How is ALS treated?
Currently, there is only a single medicine for specifically treating ALS – riluzole. And even this drug, marketed by Sanofi-Aventis under the name Rilutek, only extends survival about 2 to 3 months. So there is currently an urgent, unmet medical need for effective treatments for this devastating and fatal disease.
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