ALS & The Ice Bucket Challenge
The "Ice-bucket challenge" for some weeks has being making the waves in the social media world. From athletes to movie-stars to politicians and millions of ordinary people all over the world, no one has been left out of this initiative to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research and awareness.
In case you have been on some deserted island and away from the internet in the past few weeks the Ice bucket challenge involves pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads and challenging others to do same. When challenged by a friend or colleague to take up the task, you have 24 hours to either donate $100 to the cause or post a video showing yourself donating a bucket of ice on your head. You then in turn challenge 3 other people. A Former President of the United States, George W.Bush despite having said in a preamble to his video that the "task" was "not presidential" soon had a bucket of ice water dumped on his head by his wife, Laura Bush. He then went on to challenge his presidential predecessor, Bill Clinton.
Millions in Donation
The ALS Association credits Pete Frates, 29, a former Boston College baseball captain who has lived with ALS since 2012, for launching the viral sensation some 3 weeks ago. Frates and his family have been fundraisers and advocates for the ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter for a number of years.
Unfortunately, Frates' friend, Corey Griffin, 27, who was instrumental in having the ALS challenge go viral, died in a diving accident in Nantucket, MA. The accident occurred early in the morning of Aug. 16, when Griffin dove off a two-story building into the harbor. According to news reports, It happened only hours after he had raised $100,000 for the cause.
There is no doubt that the condition deserves all the social media attention it's getting at this time, let's take a closer look at the disease ALS:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. "A" means no or negative. "Myo" refers to muscle, and "Trophic" means nourishment–"No muscle nourishment." When a muscle has no nourishment, it "atrophies" or wastes away. "Lateral" identifies the areas in a person's spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening ("sclerosis") in the region.
As motor neurons degenerate, they can no longer send impulses to the muscle fibers that normally result in muscle movement. Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing. When muscles no longer receive the messages from the motor neurons that they require to function, the muscles begin to atrophy (become smaller). Limbs begin to look "thinner" as muscle tissue atrophies.
FACT: ALS is not contagious.
It is estimated that ALS is responsible for nearly two deaths per hundred thousand population annually.
Although the cause of ALS is not completely understood, the recent years have brought a wealth of new scientific understanding regarding the physiology of this disease.
While there is not a cure or treatment today that halts or reverses ALS, there is one FDA approved drug, riluzole, that modestly slows the progression of ALS as well as several other drugs in clinical trials that hold promise.
Importantly, there are significant devices and therapies that can manage the symptoms of ALS that help people maintain as much independence as possible and prolong survival. It is important to remember that ALS is a quite variable disease; no two people will have the same journey or experiences. There are medically documented cases of people in whom ALS ‘burns out,’ stops progressing or progresses at a very slow rate.
This is a United States based association committed to leading the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig's Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support.
Barbara J. Newhouse, president and chief executive officer of the ALS Association, in a statement said that ALS Association are extremely grateful for the generosity of these donors, and for the actions of several people who initiated and spread this incredible viral effort she also states that the additional funds will help the association "think outside the box" in the fight against this disease.
Ref: ALS Association