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What is ALS

This short page was provided by a couple of High School Freshman girls, who Walt Tucker had the pleasure of meeting from Milwaukee recently. They created this for a school project ..    We can all better understand it with their help..  Thanks ...

Thanks Kelsey...

(With exception for the background, it is exactly as they published.)

Did You Know...? Your Guide to ALS

What is ALS? The technical term for ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclorosis. But, what is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclorosis? ALS is a disease characterized by progressive muscle weakness, eventually resulting in paralysis. ALS does not affect the mind or the senses in any way. A-myo-throphic comes from Greeks, meaning "no muscle nourishment." Lateral, identifies a person's spinal cord where portions of nerve cells that nourish the muscles are located. Sclerosis means hardening, or scarring. When the neurons degenerate, they can't send impulses to muscle fibers that result in muscle movement.

What Causes ALS?  There are many things that cause ALS, such as Glutamate Excitotoxicity, which is an excess of a naturally occuring brain chemical called glutamate in the brain that ends in the death of cells; Oxidative injury, highly charged destructive molecules that lead to nerve cell damage and cell death; Protein aggregates, abnormal aggregates of proteins in the motor neutrons; Axonal Strangulation, the theory that concerns the collection of clumps of proteins called neurofilaments that normally provide motor neutron nourishment; autoimmune-induced calcium influx, isolated calcium channel antibodies which could lead to prolonged influx of calcium into nerve cells; as well as other things. Other hypotheses include; Viral infections, Deficiency of nerve growth factor, Apoptosis, and Trauma. Environmental toxins can also contribute to ALS. Environmental and occupations exposure has been traced as relationship to ALS. Just because there is relationship to ALS, doesn't mean that it directly caused ALS. Some environmental factors are; exposure to agricultural chemicals, environmental lead and manganese, brain, spinal cord, and peripheral trauma, the use of pneumatic tools, dietary deficiencies or excess, exposure to animals and their hides, selenium in drinking water, damage to DNA, and exposure to electric shocks.

Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatments of ALS.  Two out of 100,000 people typically are diagnosed with ALS. The prevalence of ALS is about 11 out of 100,000 people. Approximately 30,000 people in the USA have ALS. On average there are 5,000 new cases a year, that is about 15 cases a day. Some symptoms include stiffness, muscle twitching, muscle shaking, muscle weakness, and muscle shrinking. Some beginning symptoms include weakness in arms and legs, weakness in speech, swallowing and breathing also becomes weak. Approximately 50% of ALS patients die within 18 months after diagnosis. Only 20% survive 5 years and only about 10% of the patients live longer than 10 years. However patients on ventilators may live for many years. ALS can occur in anyone. Men are typically more likely to get ALS. Older people are more likely than younger people to get ALS. Some famous people who have died because of ALS are; New York Yankee player Lou Gehrig, Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim "Catfish" Hunter, actor, Michael Zaslow, creator of Sesame Street, Jon Stone, actor David Niven, boxing champion, Ezzard Charles, Pro Football Player, Glenn Montgomery, and Senator, Jacob Javits. ALS may take several months to be recognized, because it has many of the same starting symptoms of other neuromuscular diseases. Some tests to determine ALS are MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), EMG (electromogram), a muscle biopsy, and blood tests. The only treatment that is FDA approved is Rilutek. Rilutek helps to slow the progression of the disease. Other medications are also available to relieve symptoms of ALS. The average age of an ALS patient is 55. At least 10% of ALS cases are hereditary, the other 90% have no familial link, and are called sporadic ALS.