ALS- The Terrible Disease without a Cure Essay

ALS- The Terrible Disease without a Cure Essay

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Compared to diseases such as cancer or heart disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), affects very few people, only about 20,000-30,000 people in the United States (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2013) and 2,500-3,000 in Canada (ALS Canada, 2013). It is responsible for about 2 deaths of every 100,000 people. Yet, ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is relatively well known across the population. Why is this?

One of the reasons certainly has to do with the name Lou Gehrig, a famous baseball superstar who had to suddenly retire in 1939 due to ALS and then passed away shortly after. But, another reason ALS is so well known is undoubtedly due to it being an especially devastating disease with horrific effects and no known cure despite years of research.


While recorded reports on symptoms that appear to be Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis date from as far back as 1824, the first description in scientific literature was by a French neurologist named Jean-Marie Charcot. Charcot published his findings on the characteristics of ALS in 1869 (Yale, 2013). But it wasn't until Lou Gehrig's major announcement in 1939 that there was a widespread public recognition of the disease, especially in the Western world.

ALS is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases around the world, and people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected. On average about one to three out of every 100,000 people develop ALS each year (Kinsley & Siddique, 2013). ALS is usually diagnosed in people between 40 and 60 years of age, but younger and older people can also develop the disease. Men are affected slightly more often than women (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, June 2013)


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...tterson, D.,Figlewicz, D. A., Sapp, P., Hentati,A.,... & Brown, R. H. (1993). Mutations in Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase gene are associated with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Nature, 362(6415}, 59-62.

Talbot, K. (2011). Familial versus sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-a false dichotomy? Brain 134 {12): 3429-3434.doi: 10.1093/brain/awr296

Valdes, E. G.,& Garbuzova-Davis, S. (2013). Brain and Spinal Cord Trauma as a Risk Factor for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Mini-Review. Open Journal of Neuroscience, 3(1). jns/arti cles/2075-9088 -3-4.pdf

Wicklund,M. P. (2005}. Amyotrophi c lateral sclerosis: possible role of environmental influences. Neurologic clinics, 23(2), 461-484.

Yale School of Medicine. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Retrieved Dec. 4,2013 from

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