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ALS and how it affects middle-aged americans - Research Paper Example

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Hanby et al 2011, p.3451, define Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) as “a neurodegenerative disease of motor neurons with a median survival rate of 2 years.” Motor neurons are large nerve cells that stretch across along the brain and spinal cord and on to the muscles in the…
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Download file to see previous pages Evidence from population studies in the U.S.A. indicates that more than 5,600 new cases of ALS are diagnosed every year, and that its prevalence is 30,000 at any given period of time. The predominant age span at which ALS develops is between the ages of 40 years and 70 years, though cases have been reported in the age group of 20 years and 30 years. Men are more frequently diagnosed with ALS than women and there is a high rate of affliction of the disease among the Caucasian race. Only 50% of those afflicted with the disease live three years or more, with 20% likely to live for five or more years, and 10% living beyond 10 years. In recent years live span of individuals with ALS is found to be longer than earlier, with the likely causes being improved management of the patients and clinical interventions (ALS Association, 2011).
There is lack of clarity on how ALS is initiated. Traditionally ALS has been looked upon as a disease that lacks adequate evidence of a genetic basis. This appears to be true as 95% of patents affected by ALS do not have first degree relatives affected by ALS. However, the recent finding of TDP43 as a signature protein in ALS has brought back the question of a genetic connection in the initiation of ALS. This is because TDP43 is found to be a gene wherein mutations have been seen in 3% to 4% of familial ALS. This finding has not removed the fog around the cause of ALS, but may be a light in the dark tunnel. Disparate pathways that include RNA processing, protein turnover and mitochondrial function have been found to initiate ALS, yet a universally acceptable model that describes how ALS is initiated and propagated has not emerged (Talbot, 2011). In the opinion of Talbot 2011, p. 1329, “the concept of ALS as a pure motor system disease having a single cause, and ultimately a common treatment, has to be abandoned in favor of a model where complex multisystem ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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