What is ALS?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurological disorder characterized by progressive degeneration of motor neuron cells in the spinal cord and brain. It ultimately results in paralysis and death. Motor neurons, among the largest of all nerve cells, reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. When they die, the ability of the brain to start and control muscle movement dies with them. Both voluntary (e.g., arm and leg movement) and involuntary (e.g.,swallowing and breathing) muscle action becomes affected. Patients in the later stages of ALS are often totally paralyzed yet, through it all, their minds remain unaffected.
A little over 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. Upon diagnosis patients live 2 - 5 years on average, with approximately 10 percent living 10 years or more.
There is no meaningful treatment for ALS.
There is no cure.