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Amylotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Context:

Support groups for patients with Amylotrophic Lateral Sclerosis urge that the condition be counted as a rare disease.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  2. Mechanism of ALS Effects

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

  • ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative condition affecting specific nerve cells called motor neurons within the brain and spinal cord.
  • These motor neurons are responsible for controlling various voluntary functions, such as movement, speech, and chewing.
  • The disease is also commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player who battled ALS.
Impact on Motor Neurons and Muscles:
  • ALS leads to the gradual degeneration of motor neurons, causing the muscles they control to lose functionality and weaken.
  • The result is muscle atrophy, characterized by the wasting away of muscles due to the loss of nerve signals.

Mechanism of ALS Effects:

Upper Motor Neurons:

  • These motor neurons exist in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Their role is to transmit signals to lower motor neurons.

Lower Motor Neurons:

  • Situated in the brain stem and spinal cord.
  • They receive instructions from upper motor neurons and relay messages to muscles, initiating movement.

Diagnostic Timeline:

  • Following the emergence of symptoms, ALS diagnosis typically occurs over a period of 8 to 15 months.

Current Treatment Landscape:

  • Presently, there is no definitive cure for ALS.
  • Available treatments focus on symptom management and improving the quality of life for individuals living with the disease.

-Source: The Hindu


May 2024
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