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ALS, The Disease Stephen Hawkings Lived With

Web Desk(March 14, 2018)Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS, is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease. It affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that make the muscles of both the upper and lower body work.

Those nerve cells lose their ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which leads to paralysis and death. People with the condition lose control of muscle movement, eventually losing their ability to eat, speak, walk and, ultimately, breathe.
Its most famous sufferer was famed physicist Stephen Hawking, who died on Wednesday at the age of 76.
ALS is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player who retired in 1939 because of the condition. Other notable sufferers actor David Niven, NBA Hall of Famer George Yardley and jazz musician Charles Mingus.
Little is known about the causes of the disease, and there is currently no cure. The condition is slightly more common in men than women.
Hawking, diagnosed with the condition in 1963, lived with it for more than 50 years — a remarkably long time for an ALS sufferer.
The disease left him paralyzed and completely dependent on others and/or technology for everything: bathing, dressing, eating, mobility and speech. He was able to move only a few fingers on one hand.
There are two types of ALS:
Which is most common, and familial.
The later is inherited:
The children of sufferers have a 50% chance of inheriting the condition, and people with familial ALS live an average of only one to two years after symptoms appear.
No one knows what causes the disease, and for reasons not yet understood, military veterans are two times as likely to be diagnosed with ALS as the general public, according to the ALS Association.
Up until last year, there was only one FDA-approved drug for ALS, which only extends survival by several months, but in May 2017 the FDA approved the first new drug in more than 20 years to treat the condition.
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