Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - ALS

The ALS disease (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is an untreatable progressive neurodegenerative disease that manifests itself through a gradual loss of nerve cells. The patient has difficulty performing ordinary activities like writing or buttoning up of his clothes. He stumbles while walking, develops muscle cramps and later on has difficulty swallowing. At the end he is completely paralyzed and dependent on artificial respiration and nutrition. When suffering from the fatal ALS disease the patient gradually loses his nerve cells.

The patient who gets diagnosed whit the ALS usually does not have more than 3 years to live.

The degenerative changes and the loss of nerve cells lead to the infliction of skeletal muscle. This is manifested by painless reduction of muscle tension, paralysis of limbs, and later by muscle cramps and twitches, speech defects and difficulty swallowing and breathing. After such a voluminous loss of motor nerves the function of muscles begins to wither away. The muscle, missing the nerve supply, gradually shrinks and dies away. The patients suffering from the ALS tend to die from respiratory failure caused by the muscles being unable to further exert the respiratory movements. This condition is very often accompanied by airways infection or pulmonary embolism. The disease usually emerges between 55 and 70 years of age, only exceptionally sooner. There are slightly more male patients than female ones.

The disease was first described by Jean Martin Charcot in 1869. Even though it happened 145 years ago, the scientists are still at the outset. We do not know what causes this disease or how to successfully treat it. Sometimes the ALS is called the Lou Gehrig’s disease named after a famous New York Yankees baseball player Lou Gehrig, who was diagnosed with it in 1939. At present time the guitar player Jason Becker suffers from the ALS. In order for the disease to show itself while patient is being examined, the loss of motor nerves must already be around 40%. Until then there are no explicit symptoms to be observed.

The patient who gets diagnosed with the ALS usually does not have more than 3 years to live. There are roughly 600 people suffering from this disease in the Czech Republic and approximately 420,000 worldwide. The initially affected areas are arms (50% of all cases) or legs (roughly ¼ of all patients).The exact causes are not known. This disease can inflict anybody and is inherited only in 5-10 % of all cases. There is no medicament which would be able to slow down the development of the ALS. At the final stage of the disease the brain is unable to control most of the muscles and the patient stays paralyzed and dependent on various devices. At the same time the patient’s sensory functions and mental skills are preserved.

The Drab Foundation is involved in the ALS research and in active assistance to the afflicted.

There is a special campaign aiming to bring more attention to this disease. Every challenged person is supposed to pour a bucket of ice water on his head and donate an optional sum of money to the organization. Some experts consider the wave of pouring of ice water rather as gaining publicity to the individuals than real help to the seriously ill patients.

It is a priority task for the Drab Foundation to be involved in the ALS research and in an active assistance to the afflicted. The care for the patients is not easy. It primarily consists of ensuring optimal nutrition to the patients and preventing them from suffocating. Family support and care is crucial. The treatment is only experimental and lies in the introduction of stem cells. According to specialists the ALS particularly requires auxiliary and psychological therapy and care which aims to mitigate the problems and to prevent further complications.

The Drab Foundation offers help to the patients in the Czech Republic who for various reasons have not yet received professional care. If there is anybody encountering such difficulties among your loved ones, do not hesitate to contact us. Our foundation will take great care to contribute and help to improve the conditions of the ALS patients. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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