Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Essay by samantharae345High School, 11th gradeA-, March 2008

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, after the famous baseball player who died from the disease attacks the nervous system and breaks down the muscles so the victim eventually dies. While some people diagnosed with the disease die, others do not.

What is ALS? ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. It affects nerves cells in the brain and spinal cord "lateral" identifies the area in a person's spinal cord where portions of the cells that signal and control the muscles are located ("what is").. As this area degenerates, it leads to scarring or hardening ("sclerosis") in the region. ("what is") Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord to the muscles when you are diagnosed with ALS this transportation does not take place ("what is").

300,000 Americans have this disease. The incidence rate is 1-2 cases per 100,000. Commonly diagnosed in middle age, it affects more men than women (Walling).

The disease is not picky, it does not provide special treatment for the rich or care if you are famous. Case in point: the famous baseball player, Lou Gehrig, who died of ALS in 1941 (Walling). Familial ALS is a particular form of the disease that is inherited. Only 5-10% of patients fall into this category. The most common form of ALS is called "Sporadic ALS" because it appears to strike randomly. (Aebischer).

What does "Amyotrophic" really mean? A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. "A" means no, or negative. "Myo" refers to the muscle. "Trophic"Harlan 2means nourishment --- "No muscle nourishment" ("What is"). Most people with ALS die within 5 years of the onset of symptoms (Dagond).

Although, surgery is not an option for sufferers of ALS. There are tremendous advances in the medical field to treat the disease. Researchers subsequently identified more than...