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What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also called motor neuron disease (MND) and Lou Gehrig’s disease,  is a rare group of neurological diseases that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The condition occurs suddenly for unknown reason.  Due to the deterioration of neurons that control voluntary muscles, those muscles begin to atrophy, and very quickly (within 3-5 years) this leads active adult person to inability to move, speak, eat, and breathe. The most common cause of death for people with ALS is respiratory failure. However, about 10 percent of people with ALS survive for 10 or more years.

 

“The disease affects each individual differently and can have a devastating impact on family, carers, and friends. The rapidly progressive nature of the disease requires constant adaptation to increasing and changing levels of disability, which in turn require increased levels of support”

ALS / MND Alliance

 

ALS affects over 400,000 of the world’s population and kills over 100,000 every year. The disease affects lay people as well as very famous, for example scientist Stephen Hawking, composer Dmitry Shostakovich, dictator Mao Zedong, and sportsman Lou Gehring. The majority of ALS cases (90 percent or more) are considered sporadic. This means the disease seems to occur at random with no clearly associated risk factors and no family history of the disease (Qureshi et al., 2006).