What happens when you have ALS?
ALS affects motor neurons that direct voluntary movements — the types of movements that are under your control. Every time you step off a curb, lift a coffee cup to your mouth, or open a lock with a key, you’re performing a voluntary movement.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease damages motor neurons and causes them to die. As these neurons are lost, the motor functions they control — walking, talking, eating, and breathing — all become more difficult.
The way the disease progresses differs from person to person. “Not all people with ALS experience the same symptoms or the same sequences or patterns of progression,” according to the ALS Association. “One person may have trouble grasping a pen or lifting a coffee cup, while another person may experience a change in vocal pitch when speaking.”
Typically, though, ALS follows a series of stages. Each stage has its own set of symptoms.
March 16, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA