What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive degenerative disease that attacks the motor neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and spinal cord. Motor neurons control the movement of voluntary muscles. Death of the motor neurons makes it impossible for the brain to control muscles or signal them to move. As the muscles atrophy, it results in weakness and loss of coordination. 

ALS is unpreventable, untreatable and incurable. ALS attacks otherwise healthy adults randomly and spontaneously. Once diagnosed, people with ALS have an average life expectancy of 2 – 5 years.

Until the last few years, little progress had been made in unlocking the mysteries of ALS since it was first identified nearly 150 years ago. ALS patients continue to face certain death with no significant treatment options – a situation that remained virtually unchanged since the days of Lou Gehrig’s diagnosis in 1939.

Greater public awareness about the disease and increased funding and focus on scientific research, especially in light of technological advances and the genetic advances, provide hope and a brighter outlook that new understanding of this perplexing disease is within reach.

For a more detailed understanding of What is ALS, please read the following article "Living Inside a Dying Body" written by a fellow Blazeman Warrior® (Kyle Ryan). Please also visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at https://wwwn.cdc.gov/ALS/Default.aspx.

A recent interview the BMF conducted with Carol Mulligan, PhD from Wake Forest University also explains why Funding ALS Research is so important.