Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain that control muscle movement.
According to the ALS Association:
• Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing.
• Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis.
• The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis.
• About 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time.
• ALS is difficult to diagnose. To date, there is no one test or procedure to ultimately establish the diagnosis of ALS. It is through a clinical examination and series of diagnostic tests, often ruling out other diseases that mimic ALS, that a diagnosis can be established.