Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and motor neuron disease has caught the public attention in the form of the Ice Bucket Challenge. What’s the hoopla?
ALS is a disease which attacks certain cells in the brain, and also the spinal cord, these allow muscle movement. Therefore a person attacked by this disease will experience muscle cramps, and muscle twitching, and will feel weak in hands, legs, feet and ankles. Furthermore, he or she will have difficulty in speaking or even swallowing, but the senses such as hearing, smelling, tasting and touching do not get affected by it.
Interestingly, if you break down the term, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, you have “A” which in Greek means Negative or No, “Myo” which translates to muscle and “Trophic” which means Nourishment. This comes to No Muscle Nourishment, and therefore without nourishment the muscle wastes away. The term lateral means the spinal cord area of a person where the portions of the nerve cells are located. The hardening or sclerosis occurs when this region begins to generate.
The motor neurons in your body begin to degenerate and they are not able to send impulses to your muscle fibres which help in the movement of the muscles. A person suffering from ALS will have early symptoms that include increasing muscle weakness, especially the ones that involve arms, legs, speech, swallowing or breathing. The fact is that your muscles stop responding because it does not receive the messages from your motor neurons. You will notice that there comes a swift change in physical appearance of a person suffering from the disease. The muscle tissues as we have mentioned before begins to waste away and become smaller, and your limbs would look thinner.
Good news for you could be that the disease does not affect a given person’s mind or intelligence and there are several and the several recent studies suggest that there are some people with ALS who may have depression or alterations in their cognitive functions. This, as you can understand, would affect your memory.
Also, because there is not much known about the disease, there isn’t any prevention for it.
Social media is ransacked by the mention of the ice bucket challenge, celebrities from all over the world have taken up the challenge and maybe you have also tried it yourself too. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is actually just an activity which involves the dumping of a bucket of ice water on one’s head in order to donate to the ALS Association in the United States. It went viral throughout the social media.
The challenge is such that within 24 hours of getting challenged the participants have to video record themselves in continuous footage. Before anything, they are to at first announce their acceptance of the challenge, which is then followed by the pouring of ice into a bucket of water.
Raising awareness had never been so much fun before!