Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, is a neurodegenerative disease of the nerves that leads to the nerve cells that control the body’s muscles causing their gradual atrophy. It is the most serious disease in the group of motor neurone disease. The disease causes progressive loss of strength followed by muscle atrophy and finally the general paralysis. The direct cause of death is often lost breath ability.
Use free sample research papers on Lou Gehrig’s disease to learn that ALS was first described in 1869 by the French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot that is why it is also called Charcot’s disease. In North America, the disease is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the baseball player Lou Gehrig, who suffered from ALS.
Name of disease, a myo hypertrophy lateral sclerosis, is formed from Latin with what was originally a Greek word. The prefix a means “negative,” and indicates that something is missing; term myo means “muscle” and hypertrophy means “nourishment” that is, impulses from the nervous system. Lateral – means “side”; sclerosis means “hard,” which means the hardening of the outer part of both the spinal cord and brain stem.
Usually, the disease begins with weakness in an arm or leg and then over the course of a few months to spread to the entire body. In about 25 percent of cases, the first symptoms affect the mouth and throat with the impact on voice and swallowing ability. Often there are also muscle cramps and muscle spasms. Some patients develop abnormally strong mood swings and there is also a slightly increased risk of dementia. Tactile and other sensory functions are also affected.
Diagnosis is made by clinical examination and EMG. The study would also include blood tests, lumbar puncture and MRI of the brain and/or spinal cord to completely rule out other causes of the symptoms.
There is no cure, but the available drug treatment is the antiviral medication, which slightly prolongs the average life expectancy. However, there is much you can do to relieve the symptoms, and in most health care centers there are ALS teams that coordinate care.
Swallowing difficulties can be addressed by adding the PEG so that food can be given directly into the stomach. The symptoms of breathing problems can be alleviated with a medical ventilator and the breathing mask. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, aids alignment, pain relief and psychological support for the patient and family are other important tasks for ALS team.
Although there are exceptions, the death of half of the patients comes within 3 years, and another 25 percent will die within five years after the first symptoms. The death can be postponed with the aid of a respirator. This has long been used in some countries and is now offered at several centers in Europe. Before taking a decision on using the ventilator, first the implications need to be carefully discussed, and many patients choose to forego this.
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