There are two types of ALS:
Sporadic ALS accounts for over 90% of U.S. cases. It can affect anyone, although diagnosis is most common between 40-70. People with sporadic ALS don’t have any family history of the disorder. The mechanism by which it develops is unknown.
Familial ALS is associated only with families who exhibit specific genetic characteristics. In those families, there is a roughly 50% chance each relative will develop the disease.
Symptoms of ALS can include:
ALS symptoms change over time according to disease progression. After an ALS diagnosis, it is important for the ALS patient to have ongoing medical supervision.
ALS is a progressive disorder (symptoms get worse over time). There is no cure. Most medications are limited in their ability to preserve muscle function or slow the disease. However, there are four FDA-approved drugs for treating ALS.
ALS patients can benefit from a full course of physical and occupational therapies. In these approaches, a therapist guides the patient through a series of motions intended to strengthen muscles and maintain specific functions.
In the early stages of the disease, strength training exercises that develop the patient’s muscles may help. Although healthy diet and exercise may improve quality of life through the course of the disease, lifestyle changes do not control ALS.
About 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS every year, with 16,000 living with the disease. New ALS clinical resources are on the cusp of finding ways to greatly inhibit the condition. Likewise, people with genetic factors can receive the care they need earlier in life. To achieve this, however, patients and those with genetic risk should participate in ALS clinical trials.