ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

Odyssey Lugo, Aaron Meade, Sasha Ostolaza

The Effect on the Brain

Effect nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body that can eventually lead to death. When the motor neurons die the can't control muscles and movement is lost.

Symptoms

  • Increasing weakness in one limb, especially in a hand
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Clumsiness of the hands.
  • Fasciculations, which are subtle, light twitches under the skin
  • Impaired speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weakening of other limbs, perhaps accompanied by twitching, muscle cramping, and exaggerated, faster reflexes
  • Problems with chewing, swallowing, and breathing; drooling may occur.
  • Eventual paralysis

Prognosis

Regardless of the part of the body first affected by the disease, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to other parts of the body as the disease progresses. Individuals have increasing problems with moving, swallowing, and speaking or forming words. Eventually people with ALS will not be able to stand or walk, get in or out of bed on their own, or use their hands and arms. In later stages of the disease, individuals have difficulty breathing as the muscles of the respiratory system weaken. Although ventilation support can ease problems with breathing and prolong survival, it does not affect the progression of ALS. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within 3 to 5 years from the onset of symptoms. However, about 10 percent of those individuals with ALS survive for 10 or more years.