A Crippling Disease
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as " Lou Gehrig's Disease ", is a devastating disease that effects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. French neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot, first discovered the disease in 1869. Attention was not brought to the disease until 1939, when New York Yankees first basemen Lou Gehrig retired because of his diagnosis (4). Specifically referred to as a "neurodegenerative disease", ALS is the lack of nourishment to muscles (5). If you break "Amyotrophic" down into its latin meanings "A" means no, "Myo" is muscle, and "Trophic" means nourishment (6). It slowly eats way at the ability to eat, speak, walk, and breath, and will eventually lead to the victims death. ALS is the most common of five motor neuron diseases: botulism, tetanus, poliomyelitis, and spinal muscular atrophy. Motor Neurons run from the brain to the brain stem, connect to the spinal cord, and from the spinal cord they reach out to the corresponding muscles (5).
A Motor Neuron is a nerve cell directly and indirectly responsible for the relaxation and contraction of muscles. ALS is the decay of motor neurons, not sensory neurons. Motor neurons can be branched into three different groups. Somatic motor neurons, which are linked with the contraction of skeletal muscles, like biceps or quadriceps (5). General visceral motor neurons, these ones are involved in the contraction of arteries, the heart, and other involuntary muscles (5). The last branch is the special visceral motor neurons, these are involved with the movement in facial muscles and neck (5). These three neurons are sub-classifications of lower motor neurons; they connect from the spinal cord to their respective muscles. The other classification motor neurons would be upper motor neurons. These neurons are located in the motor area of the cerebral cortex, these neurons send the signal to the lower neurons through the