Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Flashcards, test questions and answers
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What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurological disorder that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It’s a degenerative disorder, meaning it gets worse over time. ALS results in muscle weakness, muscle atrophy and eventually paralysis. As the muscles become weaker, people with ALS may find it difficult to speak and breathe normally. ALS is caused by damage to the motor neurons that connect the brain to muscles throughout the body. Motor neurons are specialized nerve cells responsible for sending signals from the brain to muscles, which allow us to move our arms and legs or perform other movements. When these neurons are damaged or stop functioning correctly due to ALS, messages from the brain can no longer reach our muscles and we lose control of them. The exact cause of ALS is unknown but research suggests that both genetic and environmental factors may play a role in its development. Some gene mutations have been associated with an increased risk of developing ALS but they only account for a small percentage of cases overall. Other potential risk factors include exposure to toxins such as lead or mercury, traumatic injuries or viral infections like HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately there is no cure for ALS at this time but treatments can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life for those affected by it. These treatments include medications such as riluzole which can slow down progression; physical therapy which helps maintain mobility; speech therapy which improves communication; respiratory care which helps manage breathing difficulties; nutritional support which aids digestion; occupational therapy which restores function; psychological support which helps cope with emotional stressors ;and home-care services such as nursing care or assistance with daily activities .