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Definition

Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS causes the degeneration of nerve cells in regions of the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscles. ALS first gained widespread public attention in 1939 when it ended the career of Hall of Fame baseball player Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees.

The causes of the ALS remain elusive though the diseases progresses relentlessly. The gradual death of nerve cells saps muscle control. Over time muscles atrophy (weaken and become smaller), eventually affecting even the muscles necessary for breathing. Most people who die of ALS experience respiratory failure.

Signs & Symptoms

Individuals experiencing ALS may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Muscle cramps and twitching in the arms, shoulders and tongue
  • Slow loss of strength and coordination in one or more limbs
  • Weakness in feet and ankles resulting in a stiff, clumsy gait and feet-dragging
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking or breathing
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Weakness to the point of muscle paralysis

Treatment

In addition to conventional measures - which may include medication, physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling and dietary adjustments - complementary modalities such as CranioSacral Therapy can play an important role in a comprehensive therapeutic approach.