What Is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurological disorder characterized by progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. Often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease (a famous baseball player who died from the disease), it is one of the most devastating of the disorders that affect the function of nerves and muscles.

ALS does not affect mental functioning or the senses (such as seeing or hearing), and it is not contagious. Currently, there is no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.


Consider the following statistics regarding ALS:

  • Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, although the disease can occur at a younger age.
  • ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries.
  • ALS affects as many as 30,000 Americans, with 5,600 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

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