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Gail Houseman Explains ALS Pathophysiology and Progression

AUGUST 04, 2017
Gail Hausman


Gail Houseman has been a registered nurse since 1980, and has worked as the Regional Nurse Coordinator of the ALS Association – Greater Philadelphia Chapter for the past 17 years.
 
Her background is one that consists primarily of homecare and psychology, and in this video, she explains both the pathophysiology and progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
 
Houseman: So, ALS is a motor-neuron disease that affects the motor neurons, or nerves, the motor nerves in our body. The motor nerves are what stimulate voluntary muscles to move. Essentially, when the motor nerve dies, the muscle that it’s connected to also dies.
 
The speed of progression varies, but there’s always a progression of symptoms, Eventually, people will become a quadriplegic in ALS; unable to move any voluntary muscles, unable to speak, chew, swallow, and unable to breathe. That’s because the diaphragm is what’s affected by ALS.
 
As far as the progression goes, that does vary. We have some folks with ALS who are what we call “slower progresserss,” so there’s some progression of muscle strength, but you can barely see it. Unfortunately, we have other folks where there are significant changes – It could be every day that there are changes. The average life expectancy with ALS is 2-5 years after diagnosis, so we do have folks that live greater than that, but, unfortunately, there are folks that live less than that.

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