Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rare degenerative neuromuscular disease 1. Motor neurons — the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movements — gradually deteriorate and die 1. As a result, muscles gradually weaken, twitch, and atrophy 1. Eventually the person loses the ability to initiate and control voluntary movements 1.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated in 2017 that 17,800-31,800 Americans have ALS 2. Generally, the disease occurs between ages 55 and 75 2. Some studies suggest military veterans are more likely to develop ALS 1. Ninety percent or more of ALS cases are considered sporadic, with no clear risk factors or family history 1. About 5-10% of cases are familial (genetic) ALS, and specific gene mutations have been identified as the cause 1.
What people with ALS have to say.
Marie-France Bru demonstrates the use of a cheek switch and custom virtual keyboards to manipulate her computer back in 2005.