What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. There is no cure for ALS yet. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. They govern voluntary movements and muscle control.
ALS causes these motor neurons to degenerate over time until they eventually die. When the motor neurons die, the brain can no longer initiate and control muscle movement. When voluntary muscle action is progressively affected, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe.
- Difficulty walking or doing normal daily activities
- Tripping and falling
- Weakness in your legs, feet or ankles
- Hand weakness or clumsiness
- Slurred speech or trouble swallowing
- Muscle cramps and twitching in your arms, shoulders and tongue
- Inappropriate crying, laughing or yawning
- Cognitive and behavioral changes
Treatments can’t reverse the damage of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but they can slow the progression of symptoms, prevent complications, and make you more comfortable and independent. You might need an integrated team of doctors trained in many areas and other health care professionals to provide your care. This might prolong your survival and improve your quality of life.