Each year, thousands of individuals, between the age of 40 and 70, are diagnosed with a condition commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Named for the infamous baseball player, whose career was cut short by an undefined neurological condition, this condition is now medically termed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis disease.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis disease, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive disorder involving the neurological system which leads to paralysis and premature death. Oddly enough, the brain, at the center of the neurological system, is not affected by ALS. In fact, the progression of Lou Gehrig’s disease results in a brain response component, involving the motor neurons. As degeneration of motor neurons takes place, messages transmitting voluntary muscle movement no longer reach the muscle fibers and tissue. As a result, the victim of ALS will be unable to voluntarily move the extremities and, progressively, suffer from a variety of other musculature related conditions.
The origin of Lou Gehrig’s disease is unknown but believed to be attributed to a genetic disorder with familial history of the condition. The condition, while still actively researched, does not appear to discriminate with regard to gender nor race but onset of symptoms is identified as occurring between age 40 and 70.
Symptoms commonly associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), include muscle wasting and a decrease in stature with ALS progressively leading to total paralysis. Initially, ALS symptoms will appear as muscle weakness in the extremities with arms and legs markedly laxed. As the condition progresses, the facial area will be affected resulting in the ALS patient’s inability to consume food and carry normal speech patterns. In many cases, the disease progresses with such marked significance that life expectancy is projected at not more than five years beyond the initial onset of symptoms.
Treating Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, involves the use of a variety of FDA approved medications including Rilutek, distributed by Sanofi-Aventis, LLC, which has shown to reduce the progression of deterioration of the motor neurons. While a cure has not been found, maintaining quality of life is possible through a variety of rehabilitation programs coupled with a team of healthcare professionals specializing in ALS. Such rehabilitation may include physical and speech therapy as well as a team of healthcare professionals from cardiologists to internal medicine practitioners. Because ALS renders the victim unable to move, it is crucial to maintain communication and treatment with the variety of specialized physicians. While these healthcare professionals, generally, can not cure the condition, they can work to improve the quality of life into disease progression and provide support with an early death.
As with any life threatening condition, early diagnosis and intervention is key to ensuring the most optimal of treatment outcomes. While ALS, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, generally results in a shortened life expectancy, treatment should be aggressive to ensure the quality of life is maintained through the remainder of the sufferers adult life.