WHAT IS ALS?ALS Banner KLou_Gehrigs

The ALS Association,, tells us: ALS LouGehrig

 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. 

A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment–”No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degeneratesALS Stephen Hawking it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region. 

As motor neurons degenerate, they can no longer send impulses to the muscle fibers that normally result in muscle movement. 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.

Nerves in ALSThe body has many kinds of nerves. There are those involved in the process of thinking, memory, and of detecting sensations (such as hot/cold, sharp/dull), and others for vision, hearing, and other bodily functions. The nerves that are affected when you have ALS are the motor neurons that provide voluntary movements and muscle power. Examples of voluntary movements are your making the effort to reach for the phone or step off a curb; these actions are controlled by the muscles in the arms and legs. 

The heart and the digestive system are also made of muscle but a different kind, and their movements are not under voluntary control. When your heart beats or a meal is digested, it all happens automatically. Therefore, the heart and digestive system are not involved in ALS. Breathing also may seem to be involuntary. Remember, though, while you cannot stop your heart, you can hold your breath – so be aware that ALS may eventually have an impact on breathing.

Although the cause of ALSCynthia Fredrickson is not completely understood, the recent years have brought a wealth of new scientific understanding regarding the physiology of this disease.

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“While working in this project, Cynthia’s health took a downturn. The day before making the video tape Cynthia’s doctor insisted she move out of her fourth floor home that inspired her to write, into a 24 hour care facility. Cynthia faced this new obstacle with all the calm and grace described throughout her book. Reading her book brought me so much insight about facing adversity; actually watching her live dying, became an ‘Ah ha’ moment for me.” MAx Fabry, Team Cynthia, CEO, 

Cynthia’s book is a life changing. Words of wisdom from a woman writing the final chapter of her own life. When you know your time is short you can hide or you can speak openly about your ups, downs and your mistakes. What I love about this book is Cynthia is helping to write her final moments on earth and we all get the chance to learn from that and help her publish it for others to read. Rick Dancer, Rick Dancer Media

Cynthia is grace and nobility in action. She is a role model and an example of what her book is all about. Working with her has been one of the highlights of my professional life.  What a privilege to call her, “friend.” in grace, Dr. Ilene Cummings, Team Cynthia, Author and Human Development Coach