Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)

By Jake S.

ALS (Amyotrphic Lateral Scterosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is an incurable fatal neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive muscle weakness, resulting in paralysis. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord.

Media Influences

  • There are many famous people who have this disease that have overcome the difficulties and troubles that come with this disease. The most famous and current world record holder for the longest period of time living with this disease, is Stephen Hawking.
  • "Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis" is a book written by Robert G. Miller.
  • "My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all." -Stephen Hawking

Interpersonal Communication

  • If you have this disease, probably the best people you can talk to is your family because you life expectancy isn't very well. You are likely to pass away so you could say your goodbyes and hope and pray for the best.
  • Another good group of people to talk to is your friends. Tell them about this disease and also you may have to say your goodbyes.
  • You could go to church an extra amount of time to ensure a safe passage to heaven. Speak with your pastor and ask for gods forgiveness and clean any sins you have committed.

Immediate Risk Factors

  • Up to 10 percent of the people who have ALS inherited it from their parents. If you have this type of ALS, your children have a 50-50 chance of developing the disease.
  • ALS most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Before the age of 65, slightly more men than women develop ALS. This sex difference disappears after age 70.

Long Term Risk Factors

  • Over a period of months or years, patients with ALS develop severe, progressive muscular weakness
  • Patients become completely disabled, often requiring ventilatory support and gastrostomy.
  • Death usually occurs within five years of diagnosis


Doctors don't know what causes Lou Gehrig's disease, and the disease can't be cured. Although doctors can't reverse the progression of Lou Gehrig's disease, advances in treatment mean that many who have the disease live longer than they did in the past. Each year about 5,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with ALS, and about 20,000 Americans have the disease. At Mayo Clinic, doctors who have training in neuromuscular conditions (neurologists) and several other specialists work closely as a team to care for people who have this condition. Doctors offer treatment and continuing care that can address your medical needs and improve your quality of life.