Als Research

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Christina Piccininni
Professor Cody
English 122
February 28 2013
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
The Breakthrough

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s, slowly terminates motor neutrons in the brain and spinal cord. Motor neurons are an important part of the body’s neuromuscular system; the neuromuscular system is what aids our body’s movement. It is made up of the brain, muscles, and nerves. Upper motor neurons send messages from the brain to the spinal cord, while the lower motor neurons send messages from the spinal cord to our muscles. Over time the disease causes these motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord to shrink, and finally disappear, meaning muscles no longer receive signals to move. Progressively the body becomes paralyzed, leaving the muscles no longer functioning. Patients become trapped in their own bodies. ALS is still unpreventable and incurable today. According to The ALS Association, 15 people are diagnosed with ALS every day, more than 5,600 people a year. Annually, ALS kills two per 100,000 people. The average life expediency of a person with ALS is two to five years from time diagnosis. With its low life expediency this disease is a certain death. Although we have not discovered a way in preventing ALS, with new breakthroughs and medical advancements in understanding ALS we have made impressive progress in the treatment of ALS. First introduced by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, ALS has been a misunderstood illness since 1869. ALS has mercy for no one; attacking famous names such as: New York Yankee Lou Gehrig, British actor David Niven, Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung, and physicist Stephan Hawking. On July 4th 1939, after being diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig decided it was time to withdraw himself from the game of baseball. His famous farewell speech closed with “I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.” A mere two years later the disease conquered his body and...
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