ALS - Lou Gehrig’s Disease
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS is a disease of the neuromuscular system. It is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease because Gehrig’s fame as a record-breaking baseball player for the Yankee’s garnered major attention when he was ultimately afflicted with the disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis progresses very rapidly and is always fatal, which makes a diagnosis of ALS very difficult for patients and their families. The disease begins by attacking the nerve cells/motor neurons that are responsible for supporting voluntary muscular activity such as:
- Moving the arms
- Turning ones head
- All other movement’s that individuals are typically in control of
Lou Gehrig’s Disease Treatments
Because the disease causes the motor neurons to die, the normal communication between the brain and the muscles affected is broken. The early repercussions of the disease are the loss of motor control in the limbs however once the nerve cells in the muscles that control the diaphragm are destroyed, patients are then unable to breathe without support. Because there is no cure for ALS, treatment includes early detection through magnetic resonance imaging or similar tests so that the patient can be started on a regimen of therapy and medications that will preserve quality of life as long as possible. In most cases, patients are provided with physical or occupational therapy and drugs designed to control muscular spasms and cramps as well as depression and anxiety disorder.