Little Things Make the Difference

A blog about an ALS patient and her experience from the onset of the disease to her everyday life in an ICU.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hello to all! My name is Joselia Sequeira, I am Portuguese and I am an ALS patient. I, and the nurses of the ICU where I currently live, created this blog in order to share my story with others and to make others aware of ALS. Since this is the first entry of my blog space “The Little Things Make the Difference”, I thought it would be important to explain what exactly ALS is.

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. Yet, through it all, for the vast majority of people, their minds remain unaffected.


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 degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening ("sclerosis") in the region. Please do not confuse ALS with Multiple Sclerosis!

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