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Search Health Information    Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive wasting away of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal column that control the muscles that allow movement. Over a period of months or years, ALS causes increasing muscle weakness, inability to control movement, and problems with speaking, swallowing, and breathing.

The cause of ALS is unknown, and there is no cure. Treatment focuses on helping you keep your strength and independence for as long as possible. Treatment includes medicines to slow the disease and help with symptoms, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and supportive devices to help with daily tasks.

Last Revised: August 1, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology

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