Lou Gehrigs Disease Essay, Research Paper
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
This is most commonly known as Lou Gehrig s disease. Loe Gehrig was a famous baseball player, and his case made it a known disease that received national attention. A study was done in 1991, and familial ALS was found on chromosome 21. Later discoveries pinpointed a mutation in the gene that codes for an enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD), as responsible for a percentage of familial cases. These defects do not appear to be present in the more common nonfamilial, or sporadic, form of the disease. In addition to genetic factors, scientists have studied the buildup of the chemical glutamate that occurs in ALS patients.
The organ system that is involved is the Nervous system. It affects it by gradually destroying the nerves that controls the muscle. ALS develops when certain nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord break down and die. Then the motor nuerons makes the muscles work by putting out impulses so muscles stop working and waste away. As the nuerons die away they send irregular impulses to the muscle. It first weakens the arms and the legs making day to day activities more complicated with each passing day.
One source said that it is inherited in 10% of all cases. As for racial groups it seems to not be prejudice, it affects all races. Though gender wise it affects about twice as many males as females. It usually starts after the age of 50. Global distribution is equal throughout the world though many cases may not be diagnosed in the third-world countries. Treatment for this disease is minimal they try to control the symptoms and not cure them. Baclofen or diazepam can be used to control the spasticity that interferes with daily activities. Trihexyphenidyl or amitriptyline are used for swallowing when it becomes difficult. Physical therapy, rehabilitation, and use of appliances (braces and wheelchairs) to maximize muscle function and general health. The prognosis of this disease is fatal. Death usually occurs within 2-10 years of the first symptoms. Though 20% live longer than five years.