Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and Motor Neuron Disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that can affect adults of all ages. It is closely related to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
ALS targets large brain cells residing in the brain and along the spinal cord called motor neurons. In ALS, as motor neurons get sick and die, a person progressively loses the ability to move: to walk, speak, swallow, and breathe. ALS is usually fatal within 2-5 years of diagnosis.
ALS was first identified by Jean-Martin Charcot in 1869. Seventy years later, baseball player Lou Gehrig died of the disease. Nearly seventy years on, in September 2008, historian Tony Judt was diagnosed with ALS. Little more is known about the disease today than when it was first diagnosed in 1869.
It’s time that changed.