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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

  • Date Submitted: 04/18/2010 04:26 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 48.9 
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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
A Progressive Neurodegenerative Disease
Three variants of ALS are generally accepted, including the western Pacific type (Guamanian), familial and sporadic (Rosenfeld & Strong, 2002). The western Pacific type is often associated with dementia and increased prevalence occurring in Guam and other Pacific territories. Familial (fALS) is inherited and accounts for 5 to 10% of all cases. The sporadic form (sALS) is most common, accounting for 90 to 95 % of all cases, in which there are no apparent risk factors and the disease appears at random. With these three types of ALS, the familial and sporadic forms are most commonly referred to in research.
The disease doesn’t usually affect cognitive abilities, but patients diagnosed with ALS become aware of their progressive loss of function and can report neuropsychiatric symptoms of anxiety, apathy, disinhibition and depression (Grossman, Woolley-Levine, Bradley& Miller 2007). These changes can be characterized by decreased initiation of conversation, lack of motivation and behavioral abnormalities. It is still unclear if these changes are attributable to depression or just the disease itself.
Although there is no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, these findings have lead to the development of Riluzole, the first FDA approved drug for treatment of ALS. Riluzole works by decreasing the release of glutamate, which in turn reduces the damage to motor neurons. It cannot not reverse the damage already done, and isn’t meant to stop or cure the disease. Its main effect is to prolong the lives of patients with ALS by slowing down the degeneration of motor neurons.
In the early stages, patients are often fine living without assisted help. But as the disease progresses they will eventually need aid in many daily functions. As chewing becomes difficult they can seek help from nutritionists on how to plan and prepare meals throughout the...


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