Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a motor neurone disease, which causes the destruction of neurons, which control voluntary muscles. In most cases there is no known cause of ALS with 90% of 95% cases being a mystery. Approximately 5-10% are known to be genetic, inherited from a person’s parents.
The disease is characterised by the progresses deterioration of the muscles as they slowly shrink in size and become unusable. This leads to difficulty walking, performing everyday tasks, speaking as well as breathing. As the condition progresses, those who have ALS eventually circum to the disease and in most cases, pass away in their sleep due to respiratory failure. The condition can have onset in a number of areas of the body depending on the neurons, which are faced with death. These are limb-onset (arm or leg) and bulbar-onset (in the face and neck).
Unfortunately there is no known cure for ALS although some medications are able to extend the life of a person with ALS for two to three months. In a majority of cases, people with ALS live for another 2 to 4 years with around half dying within 30 months of symptoms beginning. Around 10% survive even longer generally between 5 and 10 years.
Before many of the other symptoms are experienced in ALS, walking and movement will gradually become impaired. This will come in the form of the legs moving in a less graceful motion, being sloppier and with resistance. As the condition progresses, daily activities that involve moving the hands and will, start to become more challenging. The onset of ALS can be quite subtle and can take some time before a sufferer is aware that something is going wrong. Difficulty walking can take the form of anything from weakened muscles in the limbs to dragging the foot ever so slightly along the ground.