ALS Disease Awareness Month - Quality of Care
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ALS Disease Awareness Month

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Quality of care for Veteran’s includes raising awareness around important health topics. By highlighting some of the national health awareness campaigns each month, Veterans can get ideas, information, and resources on a variety of health matters.

May is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Disease Awareness Month, and we want to raise awareness on this neurological disease.  ALS disease, also commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a specific disorder that occurs when cells in the brain die.  The cause of ALS disease is unknown, but genetics plays a role in 5 to 10 percent of people diagnosed with ALS.

Those who’ve served in the military are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS as those who have not served. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also recognizes ALS as a service-connected disease and provides financial and medical support to those with at least 90 continuous days of military service.

ALS causes muscle weakness, muscle stiffness and atrophy – which is the partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body. 

Early symptoms of ALS may include:

• difficulty swallowing,
• cramping,
• stiffness of affected muscles,
• muscle weakness affecting an arm or a leg,
• slurred speech

As the disease progresses, most people lose their ability to walk or use their arms and hands. They also lose the ability to talk and swallow food.

Diagnosis of ALS is based primarily on the signs and symptoms the doctor observes in a person. Tests are needed to rule out other diseases and no single test can diagnose ALS.  Health care providers get a person's full medical history and usually conduct an examination of the brain to determine if symptoms such as muscle weakness and muscle atrophy are worsening over a period of time.  As with other types of disease, early detection is very important to prolong life.  That’s why it’s important to seek help if you experience any of these symptoms.

ALS disease currently has no cure, but researchers at the VA and around the world are working hard to find a cure.  There is medication available to help extend life and improve the quality of life in patients with ALS.  If you or a loved one experiences any of the signs or symptoms mentioned please consult your doctor to make the proper diagnosis.

Below are resources that can help you and your family learn more about ALS disease.

Resources  (click links below to open in new tab)

ALS Association