Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Essay

Submitted By vesachiii
Words: 466
Pages: 2

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is a degenerative disease that affects the nervous system. It is a deadly disease that cripples and kills its victims due to a breakdown in the body's motor neurons. Motor neurons are the nerve cells that control muscle contractions; they are located in the spinal cord and in the brainstem. ALS weakens the neurons to a point that all movement, including breathing, stops. The first symptom to develop is muscle weakness usually ones that are distant from the brain, such as the hands and feet, and then it slowly spreads through other muscle groups closer to the brain. Early symptoms are very slight and often go unnoticed. They begin as simple things, such as tipping or dropping things. Then follows cramping or twitching of the muscles then unusual fatigue of the arms and legs comes shortly. In more advanced stages the victim experiences shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and difficulty swallowing. Once the body is completely taken over the disease intellect, eye motion, bladder function, and sensation are the only abilities spared. Scientists still don’t know where or how it originated. ALS was first identified in 1869, by a French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. ALS is not contagious, but researchers are still unsure on the cause of the disease. Today there are three recognized forms of ALS: genetic, sporadic, and Guamanian. The genetic form of ALS appears to be inherited or passed down within a family, and about ten percent of ALS patients have a family history of the disease. An abnormal gene has been located in about half these families, but the cause of the remaining half is still unknown. The next, most common form, Is sporadic ALS. These patients have no family history of…