What is ALS?

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rare neurological disease involving the neurons, which control voluntary muscle movement such as chewing, walking, talking and breathing.  As ALS progresses, the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord degenerate and die, and as a result, the brain can no longer control voluntary movement. Eventually, the muscles weaken and waste away. In most cases, ALS is a rapidly progressing disease, however, it progresses at different rates for different people. Most people with ALS will live for 3 to 5 years after first experiencing symptoms. The exact cause of ALS is unknown and there is currently no cure.  To date there are only two medications approved by the FDA. One helps with day to day symptoms and does nothing to extend one’s life and the other may or may not extend one’s life 2-4 months.  There are treatments that have been proven to help stop or slow the progression of the disease, however they are not approved by the FDA and are impossible to obtain. The other option, if one is lucky enough to qualify for would be through a clinical trial in which there is a 50/50 percent chance you get a treatment vs a placebo drug.