ALS is a neurological disease. It means that your brain isn’t talking to your muscles, and, as a result, those muscles twitch in frustration, then atrophy, and eventually become paralyzed. The disease starts differently for different people. Some begin with limb onset: weak legs, feet, arms, fingers. Some have bulbar onset: difficulty speaking or swallowing. ALS is uniformly fatal, usually from respiratory failure, with an average life expectancy of 2-5 years from diagnosis.
Though genes have been identified in some cases, the majority of ALS is sporadic, meaning it strikes without warning or reason. This makes it particularly difficult to find effective therapies to combat the disease, though researchers feel there is more promise now than ever before. With more attention and funding, we CAN make ALS history.