By now we’ve all seen the countless, usually hilarious, videos of people from all walks of life dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. The reason – to raise awareness and garner donations for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
According to the ALS Association’s website, alsa.org, the Ice Bucket Challenge has generated more than $100 million in donations.
“People have responded with such generosity, it is truly remarkable and we couldn’t be more appreciative,” said Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association. “These donations will truly help fuel our fight against ALS in ways that were never before possible.”
What is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The gradual degeneration of brain’s ability to control muscle movement eventually leads to totally paralysis and then death.
While there is no cure or treatment that stops or reverses ALS, there is one FDA approved drug, riluzole, which modestly slows the progression of ALS. There are also several other drugs in clinical trials.
First discovered in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, ALS wasn’t brought to national attention until 1939, when beloved New York Yankee baseball player Lou Gehrig announced he had contracted the disease and was forced to retire. July marked the 75th anniversary of his farewell speech in Yankee Stadium.
Who gets ALS?
According to alsa.org, roughly 5,600 people are diagnosed each year. Of those, 60% are men and 93% of all patients are Caucasian. Most people develop ALS between the ages of 40 and 70, though some cases have been diagnosed for people in their 20s or 30s.
Research continues to better understand the risk factors that may be associated with ALS, however the genetic and environmental factors have not been completely determined.
The most common form of ALS in the United States is “sporadic” ALS – occurring in 90 to 95% of all cases. Less than 10% of all cases in the US occur more than once in a family lineage.
How it’s diagnosed?
There is no one test or procedure to diagnose ALS. It’s only through a series of tests and examinations ruling out other diseases that mimic ALS, that diagnosis can be established.
For more information about ALS and what you can do to help, visit als.org, and if you have participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge please share your video on Twitter @Samsclub using #samsclubmag.