By Paula Walter
Facebook has been inundated with videos of people across the country taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, including The Tomahawks own Angie Gambill, Paula Walter and Lacy Hilliard. The purpose in dumping a bucket of ice-cold water over your head is to raise awareness and donations in the fight against ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease. Gehrig was a first baseman for the New York Yankees, playing 17 seasons and 2,130 consecutive major league games before the effects of this debilitating disease ended his career.
Approximately 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year, typically striking people between the ages of 40 and 70. At this time, the cause of Lou Gehrigs disease is not known. The progressive disease attacks the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, causing the neurons to die. When this happens, the brain cannot control muscle movement.
Muscle weakness is usually the first sign of ALS, along with tripping, dropping things, unusual fatigue in arms and/or legs, muscle cramps and twitching muscles, slurred speech and times of uncontrollable laughing or crying. Patients may find it difficult to lift items, have trouble walking or even carrying out every day activities as bathing and getting dressed as both the muscles and nerves throughout the body are affected. As the disease progresses, speech, swallowing, chewing and breathing becomes a challenge.
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By Paula Walter