Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Charcot disease, or motor neuron disease (MND), is a very serious and debilitating neurodegenerative disease. In patients with ALS, the motor nerve cells (motor neurons) in the spinal cord, brainstem, and brain progressively deteriorate and die. Because fewer signals are sent to the muscles by the dying nerve cells, the disease leads to progressive muscle weakness. After the nerve cells completely die, the patient is effectively paralyzed. As such, respiratory failure is the most common cause of death for people with ALS.

The speed at which ALS progresses varies in each person, but the average life expectancy after the positive diagnosis is three years. ALS usually causes no pain and has no effect on mental functioning. The senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing) also usually remain intact, as well as the functioning of the bowel and bladder.

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