ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease, is a disease of the motor neurons in the spinal cord and lower brain that control the voluntary muscles of the body. As these motor neurons die, muscle power is progressively lost. The muscles affected and the order in which they are affected varies from person to person. For some with ALS, the muscles in the hands, shoulders and feet are the first to show weakness; for others, it is the muscles which control speech and swallowing. As the disease progresses, leg, arm, trunk and breathing muscles become involved.
There are approximately 2,500 - 3,000 Canadians living with ALS. The cause is unknown and there is no cure. But with strong support management, an ALS patient can maintain a good quality of life and retain control of the decisions affecting her care.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive, neuromuscular disease. It attacks the motor neurons that transmit electrical impulses from the brain to the voluntary muscles in the body. When they fail to receive messages, the muscles lose strength, atrophy and die.
ALS can strike anyone at anytime, regardless of age, gender, or ethnic origin. It does not affect the senses, and only rarely does it affect the mind. The equipment costs for each patient average $137,000, while nursing and home care costs can be up to 10 times this amount.
The average life expectancy after diagnosis is 3 to 5 years.
People living with ALS face a difficult journey. It is with strength and courage that people with ALS battle this devastating disease. It is with strength and courage that family and friends of people living with ALS persevere and support their loved ones. It is this strength and courage that allows people affected by ALS to maintain hope.