Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lou Gehrig was a Hall of Fame baseball player for the New York Yankees, who died of this disease in 1941.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rapidly progressive, fatal neurological disease that attacks the neurons (nerve cells) that control voluntary muscles. The disease belongs to a group of illnesses known as motor neuron diseases. These diseases are evidenced by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons.
Motor neurons are nerve cells that are located in your brain, brainstem and spinal cord. They act as vital communication links and controlling units between the voluntary muscles of your body and your nervous system. Messages from motor neurons in your brain are transmitted to motor neurons in your spinal cord. From there the messages are sent to particular muscles.
With amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the motor neurons in your brain and spinal cord degenerate or die. They stop sending messages to your muscles. No longer able to function, your muscles gradually weaken, waste away and twitch. In time, the ability of your brain to start and control voluntary movement is lost.
Somewhere around 20,000 people in the United States have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Around 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS each year in America. Men have this disease more often than women. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis usually happens between the ages of 40 and 60, but those older and younger can get the disease.
The first affects of ALS on you are subtle. Some of these are:
§ Cramping, stiffness or twitching of your muscles
§ Nasal or slurred speech
§ Muscle weakness affecting an arm or a leg
§ Difficulty swallowing or chewing.
The parts of your body that are affected by early signs and symptoms depend on which muscles in your body are damaged first. The first symptoms you may notice involve your leg, hand or arm, or speech problems. Regardless of what part of your body is affected first, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to other parts of your body as the disease progresses.
Eventually, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis paralyzes the muscles that are needed to breathe. Most people die from respiratory failure. This usually happens within three to five years after the signs and symptoms begin. However, around 10% of people with ALS live for 10 years or more.
Has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis reached a point where you are unable to work? Is ALS the cause of your disability?
Have you applied for Social Security disability benefits or disability benefits from the Social Security Administration and been denied? If you appeal the denial, keep this in mind.
You will need a proven disability lawyer like the one at Social Security Home to represent you in this process. This is true because people who have a trusted disability attorney are approved more often than those people who do not have a lawyer.