Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is often referred to as ALS or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. It is a progressive disease where the motor neurons degenerate and die. This causes the brain to not be able to start or control muscle movement. As the disease progresses, the patient becomes paralyzed.
ALS is diagnosed through ruling out other diseases. There is no certain test to diagnose it. A patient might go through multiple testing; such as nerve conduction studies, EMG, labs, spinal tap, MRI, and muscle biopsy. A ...view middle of the document...
There may be twitching or cramping of muscles. As it progresses, there will be shortness of breath. Most die with respiratory failure because the muscles in the diaphragm and chest wall fail.
The prognosis for ALS is not good. Half of all people diagnosed live around 3 year after diagnosis. The average life expectancy is 2-5 years. Twenty percent of ALS patients live 5 years, ten percent will live 10 years. There is some evidence that patients are living longer due to medical management. Although there is no cure, Riluzole is believed to reduce damage to motor neurons. Any other medications that patients take are aimed at their symptoms.
The cause of ALS is still not known. Lots of studies have been done in the possibility of mutation of genes. They also have studies about the possibly of toxic agents. It has been noted the Gulf War veterans are more likely to develop ALS compared to other military personnel.
Lifestyle changes will have to be made because a patient will not be able to drive, will eventually be in a wheelchair and may be bedridden. There will be life changes for the family, as well in that they will have to care for the patient because they will not be able to on their own.