Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disorder belonging to a family of Motor Neuron Diseases (MNDs). MNDs are conditions that affect the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that tell muscles what to do. Motor neurons are nerve cells that extend from the brain to the spinal cord and to muscles throughout the body. These motor neurons initiate and provide vital communication links between the brain and the voluntary muscles. ALS is the most common form of Motor Neuron Disease in adults. With the onset of ALS, these neurons stop sending signals to the muscles, causing them to weaken, stiffen, and waste away. Eventually, the brain loses its ability to initiate and control voluntary movements.

ALS is a progressive disease and currently there is no cure for the disease or any effective treatment to halt or reverse its progression. The cause of ALS is not known but evidence from scientific studies suggests that both genetics and environment play a role in its development. Greater than 90% of cases are considered sporadic, with no clearly associated risk factors. Between 5 and 10% of cases are believed inherited from the parents.