One of the most devastating diseases is that of ALS, which stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease (named as such for the baseball player who was diagnosed with the condition). Because ALS can be so debilitating, home healthcare services may be required for someone who is suffering from this condition. To learn more about free home healthcare services for Lou Gehrig’s disease, please contact United Energy Healthcare Workers directly today.
What Is Lou Gehrig’s Disease?
As explained by the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2019), ALS is a group of rare neurological diseases. The disease is progressive, meaning that over time, the symptoms will get worse. ALS affects the nerve cells/neurons that control voluntary muscle movement, including movements like walking, talking, chewing, throwing a ball, raising a spoon to one’s lips, etc.
ALS results in the death of both the upper motor neurons (motor neurons in the brain) and lower motor neurons (motor neurons in the spinal cord and motor nuclei of the brain), resulting in the inability for the brain to communicate with the body’s muscles.
Symptoms of ALS
The symptoms of ALS can be tragic, affect people differently, and progress over time. At the onset (early stages) of the disease, symptoms might include muscle weakness or stiffness. Typically, these symptoms will usually start in the hands, feet, or limbs, and then spread as the disease progresses. As things get more serious, symptoms of ALS might include:
- Trouble walking and performing normal activities;
- Tripping and falling;
- Feelings of weakness in the legs or hands;
- Muscle cramps and twitching;
- Behavioral and emotional changes, including crying or laughing inappropriately; and
- Trouble swallowing and slurred speech.
Causes of Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Risk Factors
In the vast majority of people, 90-95 percent, the cause of Lou Gehrig’s disease/ALS is unknown. In the remaining five-10 percent of people, the disease is inherited. Researchers are still trying to figure out why some people (without a familial history) develop ALS.
That being said, there are some risk factors that increase one’s chances of developing ALS. These factors include age (those older than 40 are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition), gender (women are more likely than men to develop ALS before age 65; after age 70, incident rates are similar regardless of gender), genetics (some people with certain genetic variations are more likely to develop ALS; work on this is still being developed) (Mayo Clinic 2019).
There are also some environmental factors that have been associated with ALS, including smoking, serving in the military, and exposure to certain toxins, such as lead.
Complications and Living with ALS
ALS is a fatal disease. Most people who have been diagnosed with ALS die within five years of their diagnosis, although some people live around 10 years after diagnosis. As the disease progresses, it becomes impossible for a person to do anything that involves voluntary muscle activation, including speaking, walking, eating, and, eventually, even breathing. Respiratory failure is the most common cause of death for those who have been diagnosed with ALS.
Treatment for ALS cannot reverse the damage already caused by ALS; however, treatment can be used to slow the progression of symptoms. Medication is one course of action, and the use of various therapies, including speech therapy, physical therapy, and psychological therapy, is another. While there is currently no cure for ALS, treatments are constantly being developed and explored, and one day, scientists hope to be able to offer an actual cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In addition to treatment to treat the physical elements of the disease, it is often important for those who are suffering from ALS and their loved ones to seek help in coping with the condition and the feelings of grief associated with loss. Joining a support group, seeking therapy, and making decisions about your healthcare in the future now can all help a person to manage the emotional components of ALS.
Free Home Healthcare Services for Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Lou Gehrig’s disease is one of the most serious medical conditions that there is. When a person is diagnosed with ALS, their life will change, and very quickly. For everyone who is diagnosed with ALS, there will come a time with home healthcare services are inevitable.
Through EEOICPA/RECA programs maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor, you may be eligible for free, in-home healthcare services. To learn more, please reach out to United Energy Workers Healthcare today.
Mayo Clinic. (2019, August 6). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354022
National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2019, August 13). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) fact sheet. Retrieved from: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Amyotrophic-Lateral-Sclerosis-ALS-Fact-Sheet