Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – which is also commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” because of how little was known about it at the time of the baseball legend's diagnosis – is a classic motor neuron disease. Early symptoms include muscle weakness or stiffness, but as the disease evolves, the abilities to move, speak, swallow, and eventually breathe are rapidly lost.
With help from advocacy organizations and respected key opinion leaders dedicating themselves to research of ALS, Rare Disease Report
tries to keep its audience at the forefront with the latest news from the neurological and musculoskeletal spaces. This new infographic provides 5 facts about ALS that might not necessarily be covered in news articles from RDR
- ALS was first discovered in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939, when former New York Yankee Lou Gehrig was diagnosed, that the disease was granted national and international attention. Because the disease ended the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, it is often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
- ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries, however, studies have proven that military veterans are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS than somebody who has never served.
- In about 90% of cases, ALS is not inherited. It is more likely than not that the person diagnosed is the only member of his or her family with the disease, and that is called “sporadic ALS.” The other 10% of cases are considered “familial ALS,” and patients are likely to also experience frontotemporal dementia.
- Because people with ALS typically preserve their ability to perform higher mental processes such as reasoning, remembering, understanding, and problem solving, they are cognizant of their progressive loss of function and could become anxious and depressed.
- In May 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Radicava (edaravone) to treat patients with ALS. It is an intravenous infusion given by a health care professional, and was the first drug approved for the condition in more than 20 years.
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