ALS* (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a progressive neurological disease leading to the destruction of some specific nerve cells (motor neurons) responsible for muscle movement. As the disease progresses, patients mobility gradually but systematically deteriorates. In the later stage of ALS, the patient can become totally paralyzed and eventually die of respiratory muscle failure.

ALS is more prevalent among men than women. More often it affects people in the fourth, sixth or seventh decade of their life. Although when diagnosed, patients are usually 55 years old, it does not mean that younger or older people cannot suffer from ALS. The mean survival time of ALS patients is 2,5 years from the diagnosis. However, one should bear in mind, that the course of ALS varies among patients, which means that the average survival period may fluctuate widely. Over one-fourth of people diagnosed with ALS live more than 5 or 10 years (about 10%).

What types of neurons make your body function properly?

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The body has many different types of neurons performing numerous important functions. There are neurons involved in thinking and association processes, memory and those receiving external stimuli such as sounds or images. ALS affects neurons controlling voluntary movements and muscle power. They work when you try to reach for a cup of tea or walk down the stairs.

The heart and digestive system are also made of muscular tissue. It is, however, a different one and that is why their functioning is not consciously controlled. The heart beat and food digestion are involuntary actions. Therefore, ALS does not affect the cardiovascular and digestive systems.

Breathing also seems not to be under voluntary control. However, bear in mind, that while you cannot have any impact on the heart beat, it is possible to hold your breath. Thus ALS may also eventually affect your breathing.

*on our website ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (according to American terminology); According to the WHO ICD- 10 classification, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is coded as G12.2 Motor Neuron Disease.

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