Over the past few weeks, the rage across the Internet has been the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in order to raise awareness for the disease ALS. Many people have seen those videos (and you may have even made one yourself), but not many people know what ALS is, where it comes from, and what it actually does.
So, instead of just dumping a bucket of ice water on our heads, let’s actually educate ourselves about the issue. Here are some facts about ALS and why you should care about it and why you should want it eradicated.
The nerve cells that ALS attacks are the lower motor neurons which carry about a wide range of functions such as moving the limbs, swallowing, and breathing. It doesn’t affect the brain, just the motor neurons, so cognitive functions usually remain normal.
No one is sure what brings about ALS. Heredity plays a role in about 5-10% of cases, but the cause is still a mystery and researchers are trying to get to the bottom of it so we can see if we are able to prevent it in the future.
Roughly 5,000 new cases of ALS are diagnosed each year in the U.S. It affects more men than women and it is rare to see it diagnosed before the age of 40.
Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure because the muscles in the respiratory system begin to fail and the person can no longer breathe on his or her own.
Lou Gehrig is perhaps the most famous person to be diagnosed with ALS, others are Steve Hawking, Former NFL Player O.J. Brigance, Actor Michael Zaslow, Guitarist Jason Becker, and Former Vice President Henry Wallace.
Once diagnosed with ALS, the average person is only expected to live 3-5 years longer due to the rapid progression of the disease. Though roughly 10% of people with ALS live for 10+ years after diagnosis.
Donations from the Ice Bucket Challenge have exceeded over $40 million and the ALSA has reported record breaking donations in the past few weeks because of the phenomenon.
Please donate to the ALS Association at www.alsa.org and share this post with your friends as you nominate them for the Ice Bucket Challenge to actually raise awareness and educate the people you are nominating.