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ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the central nervous system. The nerve cells in the spinal cord are the most affected by this disorder. These nerve cells are the ones responsible for the control of the muscles. Sclerosis or scarring will occur in the area as it degenerates.

There are three types of nerves in the central nervous system: the motor neurons, sensory neurons, and autonomic neurons.

Motor neurons – these nerve cells will send out impulses that came from the brain and the spinal cord to the muscles in the body, giving out the appropriate response such as running, walking, wiggling the toes, catching a ball and so on
Sensory neurons – are the nerve cells responsible for bringing electrical impulses from the muscles and the skin back to the brain and the spinal cord. The response of the brain and the spinal cord will then be carried by the motor neurons for the muscles to respond appropriately.
Autonomic neurons – these nerves control involuntary and voluntary bodily functions. These include sweating, heart rate and the beating of the heart, digestion, the body’s temperature regulation and so on.

In ALS the affected neurons are the motor neurons. The main part of these cells is located in the spinal cord and its fiber or axon parts are extended outside the spinal cord to control directly or indirectly the effector organs which are the muscles and glands.

The signs and symptoms of ALS can affect the physical and emotional aspect of an individual. The following are some of the symptoms experienced by an affected individual:

  • Inability to move or walk properly, which includes tripping, stumbling and there is awkwardness when running
  • Slapping gait or foot drop
  • There is reduced dexterity of the fingers
  • Cramping and stiffness in the muscles of the hand
  • There is a wrist drop which will affect work performance or even movement
  • Trouble in speech or communication using words
  • There is trouble swallowing of food; aspiration or choking is present during meal time

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If you think you are suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).