What is ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive, neuromuscular disease. It attacks the motor neurons that transmit electrical impulses from the brain to the voluntary muscles in the body. When these muscles fail to receive messages, they lose strength, atrophy and die.
ALS can hit anyone at any, time regardless of age, gender, or ethnic origin. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is 3 to 5 years.
- ALS does not affect the senses; only rarely does it affect the mind
- In 90% of cases, it strikes people with no family history of the disease
- Equipment costs for each patient average $137,000; nursing and home care costs can be up to 10 times this amount.
Ever wonder what Lou Gehrig’s Disease did to Lou Gehrig?
Many years ago, Lou Gehrig was known as professional baseball’s “Ironman.” Strength, agility, excellent health Lou—Gehrig had everything it took to become a baseball legend. But Lou Gehrig had something else. At the peak of his career, he was diagnosed as having Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and died 2 years later, at age 39. Today the disease that tore his life apart afflicts more Canadians than ever before, and is predicted to double in the next decade.
FAQs about ALS
Q. What are the early symptoms of ALS?
A. ALS usually becomes apparent either in the legs, the arms, the throat or the upper chest area. Some people begin to trip and fall, some lose the use of their hands and arms, some find it hard to swallow and some slur their speech.
Q. How do you “catch” ALS? And what does it do?
A. ALS cannot be “caught” — it is not contagious. In 90% of ALS cases, it strikes people with no family history of the disease. 10% of cases are classified as familial or inherited ALS. It may occur at any age, with the likelihood increasing as people grow older; however, many are struck down in the prime of life.
Since the disease frequently takes its toll before being positively diagnosed, many patients are debilitated before learning they have ALS. The disease does not affect the senses — taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing, and only rarely does it affect the mind. ALS wreaks a devastating effect on patients as well as their families. As they struggle to cope with the prospect of advancing disability and death, ALS may consume their financial, physical and emotional resources. It is a costly disease in its later stages, demanding both expensive nursing care and equipment.