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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS is a disease in which some nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord slowly die.

These nerve cells are called motor neurons and they control the muscles that allow the body to move. ALS is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.

People with this disease gradually become disabled. The disease progresses at different rates in different people. Some sufferers live with ALS for several years.

But over time, ALS makes it difficult to move, speak, eat, swallow, and breathe. These difficulties can become the cause of injury, other diseases and finally lead to death.

In most cases, death occurs about 3-5 years after the onset of clinical manifestations. And yet many people live with the disease for years and even decades.

ALS is a rare disease. Only 1-2 per 100,000 people are diagnosed with it each year, and men are often affected. ALS can occur at any age, but most often develops in middle and older age.

What are the symptoms?

The first sign of the disease is often a feeling of weakness in one leg, arm, face or tongue. This feeling of weakness slowly covers both arms and both legs.

This happens because motor neurons slowly die and stop sending impulses to the muscles. So the muscles no longer have “no one to tell them to move”. Over time, due to the lack of impulses from the motor neurons, the muscles become immobilized and they become smaller and weaker.

Over time, ALS also leads to:

• Muscle spasms;
• Slow loss of ability to use hands to perform activities;
• Difficulty speaking, eating, swallowing, breathing. The patient gradually becomes completely disabled.

ALS does not cause numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation.

Progressive loss of respiratory function is the most common serious complication. Because the muscles in the throat and chest weaken, it becomes difficult to breathe and swallow. Pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, lung and heart failure are the most common causes of death.

What causes it?

Doctors do not know what causes the disease. In 1 in 10 cases there is a family history. This means that in 90% of cases, medical professionals are unable to pinpoint the cause of ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis treatment

Although there is currently no cure for this disease, treatment will help you stay on your feet and independent of help for as long as possible .

But at the beginning of this year in an Israeli clinic, a study was carried out with the implantation of stem cells taken from human bone marrow. In most patients, significant improvements were observed, such as improvement in speech and motor abilities.

The final report of the monitoring of the patients who participated in the study will be released by the end of the year, as it takes 9 months for monitoring. The authors of the study are convinced that stem cells can not only stop, but also cure the disease.

Treatment now in use helps to some extent to avoid the crippling causes of ALS:

Occupational and physical therapy will help you stay healthy and make the most of the abilities you still have.
Speech therapy – through this you will you can keep your ability to speak after speech problems have already started.
Aids and equipment such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, ramps, handrails, raised toilet bowls and adapted showers booths, will help you stay mobile, stay connected and self-service. With their help, you will be able to feed, bathe and dress yourself.
Medications such as riluzole are effective in relieving symptoms and will allow you to feel comfortable.
Breathing support devices are useful because as the disease progresses the respiratory muscles weaken.

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