Lou Gehrig’s Disease – The Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment Options, And Prognosis Of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a progressive, neurodegenerative, fatal disease, named after the famous New York Yankees baseball player Lou Gehrig who died from the condition in 1939, affects both the upper and lower motor neurons, causes atrophy of the muscles, voluntary movement losses, bladder and bowel structure deficiencies that do not allow the normal maintenance of natural body passages, replaces healthy nerves along the sides of the spinal cord with hardening or scarred tissues causing muscles to lose their nourishment, become smaller and weaker, damages motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movements, generally spares the patient’s eyes, and normally does not affect their cognitive functions.

Neuromuscular System:

Consisting of the brain, muscles, and nerves the neuromuscular system controls many every day functions such as walking, running, breathing, lifting, and more that Lou Gehrig’s Disease, over the course of time, prevents from occurring, gradually paralyzing the body.

Risk Groups:

According to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association of America Lou Gehrig’s Disease typically affects adults from forty to seventy years old, with men more likely to be affected than women, and approximately five thousand new cases developing a year, up to ten percent of who contract the disease through hereditary means.

Symptoms:

The symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s Disease may include such things as muscle weaknesses in the arms and legs, excessive falling, speaking difficulties, muscle cramps, eating, swallowing, and breathing problems, the inability to not drop objects held, muscle atrophies, slurred speech, manual dexterity problems, monomelia, or one affected limb only, amyotrophies, voice volume losses, dysphagia, hyperreflexia, Babinski’s Sign of the toes, pseudobulbar affects, or emotional incontinences, with uncontrolled fits of laughter, smiling, or crying, the inability to stand, the loss of the use of the arms and hands, weight maintenance difficulties, depression, profound frontotemporal dementias, severe personality changes, nocturnal hypoventilations, respiratory failures, and pneumonia.

Causes:

While the exact causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis remain unknown they may include gene mutations of the superoxide dismutase enzyme that protects the mitochondria, oxidative stress, programmed cell deaths, cellular organelles damages, caloric restrictions, DNA defects, immune system abnormalities, toxic exposures, spinal cord surgeries, A4V gene defects, the leading mutation in North America that may cause Lou Gehrig’s Disease with rapid progression to death, heredity, glutamate neurotransmitters in the brain that kill neurons, autoimmune responses, microglia defects, brain and spinal cord non-neuronal trauma, and smoking.

Diagnosis:

Diagnostic measures for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis may include patient and family histories, x-rays, spinal taps, electromyograms to detect damaged nerves, blood tests, nerve biopsies, neurological examinations, Nerve Conduction Velocity Tests, urine samples, diagnostic biomarkers, Cystatin C Tests, and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Tests.

Treatment Options:

Treatment options for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis may include physical therapies, assistive technology equipment, low-impact aerobic exercises for unaffected muscles, range of motion exercises, wheelchairs, ramps, walkers, braces, speech-language strategies to improve talking, voice amplifiers, alphabet boards, suction devices to remove excess fluids from the throat, feeding tubes, ventilatory assistance devices, pallative hospice care, bilevel positive pressure ventilatiion, or BiPAPs, to support breathing, tracheostomies, Riluzole and Ceftriaxone to treat glutamate transporters, and medications for symptom relief of such things as fatigue, muscle cramps, pain, sleep disturbances, and depression.

Prognosis:

According to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association about half of all patients with Lou Gehrig’s Disease will survive for three years after being diagnosed with this ailment, approximately twenty percent will live five years, and about ten percent will survive for ten years or more, with respiratory failures being the leading cause of death for these patients.

Lou Gehrig:

Henry Louis Gehrig will always be remembered for his batting skills, long standing consecutive games played record of 2130 games, that stood for fifty-six years before Cal Ripken Junior broke it on September 20, 1998, earning him the name the Iron Man, the record for the most career grand slams hit in a career, having three of the top RBI seasons in baseball history, playing in all of the first seven All-Star Games, winning the American League’s Most Valuable Player Awards in 1927 and 1936, winning baseball’s Triple Crown in 1934 for having the highest batting average, hitting the most home runs, and the most runs batted in for the season, being the first player in Major League Baseball history to have his number retired, election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, being voted the Baseball Writers Association Greatest Firstbaseman of All Time, being the leading vote getter for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, producing a fifteen season career from 1925 to 1939, his famous farewell speech after Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis prevented him from playing any longer, and still considering himself to be “The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth”.

Media:

Media that has been made about Lou Gehrig’s life includes the The Pride of the Yankees, the My Luke and I autobiography written by Eleanor Gehrig and Joseph Durso, and the television movie A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story. In 1938 Gehrig also appeared in the motion picture Rawhide playing himself.