Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, affects the nervous system, including nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. ALS is very rare, with only approximately 6,000 cases occurring each year. The symptoms of ALS can be treated, but unfortunately, cannot be cured. As the disease degrades the body's motor neurons, the body can no longer initiate or control movement. Due to this inability to control movement, people with ALS gradually lose the ability to eat, speak, and even breathe. ALS develops in most people between the ages of 40 and 70, though in rarer cases the disease can develop in younger adults.
Once ALS begins to take hold in the body, it almost always progresses. According to statistics, more than half of those with ALS live three or more years after initially being diagnosed. Twenty percent live five years or more, and up to ten percent live more than ten years. Evidence suggests people with ALS are living longer thanks to medical intervention advances in treatment options. There have been some cases where people with ALS experience little if any loss of motor function. In some rare cases, patients temporarily experience significant improvement or reversal of symptoms.
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