Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)

Biology: Genetic Research Project

Why I chose Lou Gehrig's Disease

I chose this disease because I love the game of baseball and Lou Gehrig (The Iron Horse) was one of the greatest baseball players of all time, I also love the New York Yankees which is the team that he played on. I also have always looked up to him as a role model and while I was in Cooperstown I got to see his uniform along with his memorial at the Baseball Hall of Fame. That was probably the coolest day of my life and since then I've always wanted to know what the disease actually did to take his life.

Definition of Disorder

During ALS the body's brain and spinal cord begin to shut down and the nerves start to disfunction disabling the ability to do the simplest os tasks such as walking, running, reaching for a glass of water, and in the later stages it even takes the ability to breathe and talk away. That's why most of the people that get ALS usually end up dying. ALS mostly affects the brain and spinal cord however, as it progresses it can affect just about every part of your body from your feet and ankles all the way up to your hands and arms.

Pictures relating to ALS

Symptoms of ALS

  • Difficulty walking -Muscle cramps
  • Weakness in legs, feet, or ankles
  • Twitching in arms, shoulders and tongue
  • Hand weakness or clumsiness
  • Slurring or speech/trouble swallowing
  • Difficulty in keeping your head up
  • Difficulty in keeping good posture

Cause of the disorder

During ALS the body's muscles become weak then later become paralyzed and it makes it nearly impossible for people with this disease to do the simplest of tasks. Some causes that trigger ALS are:


  • Gene mutation
  • Chemical imbalance
  • Disorganized immune response
  • Protein mishandling

How The Disorder is Inherited

About 90 percent of the time ALS is not inherited however, when it is is comes a parent who has a genetic change that causes ALS. When this happens it causes all the parent's children to have a 50 percent chance of getting the disease. Most of the time if this were to happen the disease is autosomal dominant. It is more common for men/boys to recieve this disease than woman/girls to recieve it.
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How the disease is diagnosed

ALS is a very difficult disease to diagnose; however, doctors have found ways to diagnose a patient by using these tests:

  • electrodiagnostic tests including electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV)
  • blood and urine studies including high resolution serum protein electrophoresis, thyroid and parathyroid hormone levels and 24-hour urine collection for heavy metals
  • spinal taps
  • x-rays, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • myelograms of cervical spine
  • muscle and/or nerve biopsies
  • thorough neurological examination

How it's Treated

There hasn't been a cure found for ALS yet; however, patients are given medications to help reduce the damage to the motor neurons. Patients also see physicians regularly to do low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and stationary bicycling to help make unaffected muscles stronger to reduce the chance of those muscles becoming infected. There are also medications to help reduce fatigue, pain, depression, sleep disturbances, and constipation.
What is A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig's Disease ?
Debra'sJourneyForLife: ALS...Beyond The Bucket!

Who Usually Gets ALS

ALS occurs all over the world; however, there are certain people that it affects more than others. Most people are diagnosed with this disease between the ages of 40-70 with an average age of 55. Almost all people who are diagnosed with this disease are white (93%). ALS also affects men more than woman. According to the ALS Database 60% of the people who are diagnosed with ALS are men. There are about 15 new cases every day, adding up to 5,600 cases of ALS each year in the U.S.

New Info. I Learned

I learned many new things about ALS after my research. One of which is that it is very common for white men to be affected by this disease. I also learned that if you get ALS it is carried on the dominant allele. Lastly, I learned that daily activities are nearly impossible with ALS, even chewing and swallowing food.

More about Lou (The Iron Horse)

Lou Gehrig was a six time world series champion and a seven time all star in his 17 years of the MLB. He ended with a career batting average of .340, a career on-base percentage of .447, and a career slugging percentage of .632. He also set MLB records at the time with the most career grand slams (23) and the most consecutive games played (2,130 consecutive games) and won many other batting titles/awards earning him the nickname The Iron Horse. He was also the first player in MLB history to have his uniform number retired and was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. After ALS forced him to retire Lou gave his famous Luckiest Man speech on July 4, 1939. Two years later ALS took his life on June 2, 1941. He was 37 years old.
Lou Gehrig's 4th of July Farewell.