A Debilitating Disease|
A & P II
20 January, 2013
A Debilitating Disease
Lou Gehrig’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is named after the New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig. He died in 1941, two years after he was diagnosed with ALS. The disease was then named after him. ALS is a degenerative disease that is characterized by the loss of motor neurons, with progressive weakness and atrophy of the muscles of the hands, legs, and forearms. It usually spreads and affects most of the body and face (Mosby’s Dictionary of, 2009). This disease will make individuals weak until eventually they become completely paralyzed. This occurs because the motor neurons that control muscle contractions deteriorate to that point that all movement ceases. The only things that are spared are the eye motion, bladder function, and sadly the cognitive level (Gillyatt, 1995). The age of onset is usually between the ages of 40 and 70 years old, but can affect younger and older patients too. After initial diagnosis, patient is only given about 3-5 years to live. The only known exception to that is Stephen Hawking (renowned physicist of the University of Cambridge) who has had ALS for over 40 years and still made contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity. There are around 5,000 cases diagnosed each year and it affects about 30,000 people in the U.S. total. It has only been genetically linked in about 10 percent of all cases. Even though the course of ALS varies significantly, it usually affects both the upper and lower motor neurons (Aebischer, 2007).
ALS only harms motor neurons so the senses of sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing remain intact. The higher functions of the brain are unaffected and the individuals have to watch their own demise being aware of everything debilitating and devastating that is happening to them. For reasons...