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Amyotrophic Lateral

(Lou Gehrigs Disease)
Meg N
Period 1


An incurable disease of
unknown cause in which
progressive degeneration
of motor neurons in the
brain stem and spinal cord
leads to atrophy.
In later stages patients
may become completely
Most common form of motor
neuron disease

Background Information
and History

ALS was first discovered in France by a neurology pioneer

named Jean-Martin Charcot in 1869
He first named ALS Maladie de Charco.
Now ALS has many different names around the
world, such as Lou Gehrigs Disease, ALS, MND
(Motor Neuron Disease), Sclrose latrale amyotrophique
and Maladie de Lou Gehrig.
Even though ALS has been identified for over 135 years
the cause is usually unknown.
There are two major types of ALS known: familial and sporadic
About 10% of all cases are familial
Familial is thought to be caused by genetic factors
About 90% of all cases are sporadic
Sporadic has no known cause.


The earliest sign of ALS is

weakness in the arms or legs
There are many symptoms such as
- twitching and cramping of
muscles, especially those in
the hands and feet
-loss of motor control in the
hands and arms
-impaired use of the arms and
-weakness and fatigue
-tripping and falling
-dropping things
-uncontrollable periods of
laughing or
-slurred or thick speech and
difficulty in projecting the voice

Tests health care providers

would run to diagnose ALS

Diagnosing ALS is difficult

because there is not one test
that identifies ALS
There are tests that rule out
other diseases that mimic ALS
Tests health care providers
often run are electrodiagnostic
tests including electomyography
and nerve conduction velocity,
blood and urine studies, spinal
tap, x-rays, muscle and/or nerve
biopsy, and thorough
neurological examination.

How The Disease Affects

The Body

ALS damages the motor neurons

and overtime the motor
neurons shrink up and
Upper motor neurons send
messages from the brain to the
spinal cord, and lower motor
neurons send messages from the
spinal cord to the muscles.
Motor neurons are an important
part of the body's
neuromuscular system. The
neuromuscular system enables
our bodies to move and is made
up of the brain, many nerves,
and muscles.
Without the motor neurons your
muscles dont receive the
message to move.

Cures And Treatments


At the moment there are no known

cures to ALS.

Although, medications to relieve

painful muscle cramps, excessive
salivation and other symptoms are
Heat or whirlpool therapy to
relieve muscle cramping is very
Exercise, although recommended in
moderation, may help maintain
muscle strength and function for a
longer period of time and keeps you
in shape.
Physical therapy to maintain
mobility and ease the discomfort of
muscle stiffness, cramps and fluid
retention is a great idea.

Nutritional counseling to promote

good nutrition and offers of other
dietary options when swallowing
becomes difficult is helpful.
Speech therapy and communication
training to maintain as many verbal
communication skills as possible.
Communication training also
indicates non-verbal techniques.
Devices such as splints, corrective
braces, grab bars, reach-extenders,
etc. to help with daily activities
such as dressing, eating, using the
toilet and bathing are a good idea
to prevent tripping and falling.
Special equipment such as
wheelchairs, electric beds or
mattresses to maximize functional
independence are very practical.

Current Research for a

cure or a better

Many people are searching

for cures for ALS.
Project ALS has raised
over thirty million
Stem cells hold great
promise in treating ALS.
Mice and rats are often
used to test treatments
and cures.

Currently, the most reliable

laboratory model for ALS drug
discovery is a transgenic
mouse that develops the
disease. The SOD1 mouse, which
features the genetic mutation
associated with a small number
of ALS cases, is a hot
commodity. Researchers were
forced to wait up to 18 months
to receive these mice. The
backorder problem severely
slowed ALS research.

The age one would usually

get ALS and how they would
get it

The age you would normally get ALS is between 40 and 70 years old
with the average of 55
ALS is 20% more common in men than in women.
About 90% of ALS patients are Caucasian.

People of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected.

90-95% of all cases are of unknown cause.

5-10% of all cases are thought to be caused by genes or are


Cost Of Disease

Drugs are very expensive

120 pills of Baclofen costs $54.00
A 1 hour massage cost $100.00
A speech therapist costs $300.00 for
2 hours
A wheelchair can cost from $1,000.00
to $3,000.00
A physical therapist is also
very expensive

How A Persons Life Is

Affected By ALS

ALS makes it very difficult for people who suffer ALS to

perform simple tasks such as walking, running, buttoning
a shirt, writing, or turning a key in a lock.
People may also trip and stumble more often than usual.
Somebody who has ALS, in later stages, often has to use
a walker or a wheelchair
One with ALS cant function very independently so they
need someone to always be with them.

Conclusion Paragraph

The reason I picked ALS for my report is my grandmother was

diagnosed with ALS recently and I would really like to understand
what is going on. I found that only 10% of people diagnosed with
ALS survive more than 10 years. I found most of my information from
the internet. One question I still have is how many people have
have been diagnosed in the past 10 years? I think my strengths are
creativity, color and getting the point across. I think my weakness
is not having enough information.

Diagram #2



Interview with my
Grandmother, Margaret

What causes the disease or physical ailment? How does a person get this
There is no identified cause. It is unknown.
How is the disease currently treated? Is there a cure or a better way to
fight this disease?
There is no cure. A few experimental drugs that only relieve pain are
How serious is the disease?
It is always fatal. The disease always either works up from the legs or
down from the mouth.
Is there research being done to find a cure or a better way to fight the
Yes, the Department of Defense is doing a lot research.
Are there any drugs or medications that a person can take to help them
cope with the disease?
Yes, there are. Most common drug is Baclofen.
How well can a person carry on a normal daily activities if they had the
Not super well, but can still move around. No sports but non-active
things are okay.


dictionary.com.http://dictionary.reference.com/Dec. 4, 2006
The ALS Society of Canada http://www.als.ca/ Dec. 4, 2006
ALS Association http://www.alsa.org/als/what.cfm?
CFID=3108730&CFTOKEN=86335173 Dec. 3, 2006
The Robert Packard Center for ALS research
http://www.alscenter.org/about_als/index.cfm Dec. 12, 2006
ALS society of Alberta http://www.alsab.ca/whatisals.aspx Dec.
11, 2006
Newton, David. Olendorf, Donna. Jeryan,Christine. Boyden, Karen.
Sick: Diseases, Injuries, and Infection, UXL, and imprint of the
Gale Group. London, France. 2000
Health Matters!. Volume 8 Diseases and Disabling Conditions.
William M. Kane, Ph.D Book Builders LLC. Danbury, CT. 2002