What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), 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.

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.

Every year, over 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS, in which only 10% of cases are inherited through a mutated gene. Learn more about ALS.

Resources for Newly-Diagnosed

You are not alone. Receiving a diagnosis of ALS is challenging and overwhelming. There is so much to know, a great deal to consider,and typically a host of questions. While no two people with ALS are alike or will experience the condition in the same way, there is a great deal of collective knowledge and expertise available from health care providers, people with ALS, family members and caregivers. 

Learn more about ALS, the support resources available, and more on our Newly-Diagnosed Page.

Care Services from the ALS Network

The ALS Network’s team of professional Care Managers provide expert advice and assistance for people living with ALS, free of charge.

Each person with ALS who registers with ALS Network is connected to a professional Regional Care Manager with extensive knowledge of ALS and local resources. We are here for everyone facing this disease. Our compassionate Care Managers are available to help maximize health, independence, mobility, safety and communication.

Contact us now to register with ALS Network and begin receiving free, personalized services, regardless of insurance or immigration status.

The ALS Network offers a wide variety of free-of-charge care services, including Equipment Loan Programs, Connection Groups, Educational Programs and Webinars, and Resources for Families who are facing ALS. Learn more about our Care Services.