Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neuromuscular disease,
also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial,
ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries, typically striking men and women between
the ages of 35 and 70. Over 5,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year.
Between 5 and 10% of those cases are familial, occurring more than once within a single
ALS is characterized by a degeneration of motor cells in the brain and spinal cord,
leading to muscle weakness and, as the disease progresses, severe impairment of mobility, speech, swallowing, and respiratory function. In the advanced stages, ALS care can
cost up to $250,000 a year. Average life expectancy, without mechanical ventilation,
is two to five years from diagnosis. But with advances in research and improved
medical care, many
are living longer, more productive lives.
all affected live at least three years after diagnosis; 20% live five
years or more and up to 10% will live more than ten years.
While recent research has shed light on possible causes of ALS, its cure remains a mystery. However recent advances and increased funding for research make this truly a time of hope.