Understanding The Effects of ALS

ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) is serious—research is key to understanding the disease, offering hope for future 
Editorial Note: The people in this blog are based upon the stories of real people who have ALS

Angela’s shoelaces just wouldn’t tie right. Her husband Shawn had teased her that it must be stress. After all, Angela had just started her retirement, and there was just so much to do: manage her volunteer work, help the children finish college, and plan the next chapter of her life.

But when Angela’s left leg started getting weak, she and Shawn finally went to a doctor, who referred them to a neurologist. The news was bad: Angela had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease— attacks the nerve cells that control voluntary movement. No one knows for sure what causes ALS, and there is no known cure.

After seeing a neurologist, Angela and Shawn did some research to try and understand this disease. They learned that ALS affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord that send messages throughout the body. When these nerves start to die, the brain can’t control muscle movement. Over time, patients can become increasingly weak and even paralyzed.

Unfortunately, ALS is nearly always fatal.

“Of course we were completely overwhelmed at first,” says Angela. “Shawn was my rock, but I’m worried about