Neuromotor Diseases and ALS

Neuromotor diseases are known in the world of medicine as a specific group of neurological disorders that make a strong effect on motor neurons. These are the cells that take control of the essential muscle activities, including speaking, walking, breathing, or any other general movements of the human body. Neuromotor diseases basically refer to the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that is known as the most common form in this specific group of diseases, and to many other neuromotor diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Huntington's disease (HD), Parkinson's disease, etc.

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a common term used mostly in the UK and other countries. However, in the United States of America it is more recognized under the name of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease was named after Lou Gehrig, who was a famous baseball player in the team of the New York Yankees. He was the first person diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the 1930s.

ALS is a quite dangerous disease, as it rapidly develops and is incurable without an adequate treatment; in some cases, it can lead to death. Generally, it is characterized by extremely fast progressive weakness in body, muscle spasticity and atrophy, along with emerged difficulties in breathing, talking, swallowing, walking, or any other body movements necessary for a normal life-sustaining activity. This is the very reason why ALS has a strong connection with other neuromotor diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's diseases. If ALS attaints the whole muscle system of the human body, causing failures in breathing, speaking, walking, etc., these three mentioned above affect only specific muscle zones. For example, Alzheimer's disease affects speaking, and in advanced form, also all the muscles of a person's body that make him be bedfast. In its turn, Huntington's disease usually affects general body movements. They become more jolty and harder to control. Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. All movements are failed to be performed in a normal way. Generally, they are slow and shaky. Therefore, all the three diseases have the symptoms of muscle performance failure, as well as the common form of the disease that is ALS.

Other Neuromotor Diseases

  • Lou Gehrig's disease destroys motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. There are the two types of the motor neurons: upper motor neurons and lower motor neurons. While upper motor neurons send messages from the brain to the spinal cord, the lower ones do the same from the spinal cord to the muscles. When motor neurons are damaged, no normal muscle performance occurs. Therefore, a person starts to experience the symptoms of the disease.
    The neuromuscular system makes the body move. Basically, it works by virtue of chain consisted of the brain, the nerves, and the muscles. This is how breathing, swallowing, walking, or any other movement becomes possible. ALS makes the motor neurons, upper ones as well as the lower ones, shrink and disappear. By this, the whole process of movements is failed. Upper motor neurons do not send messages to the spinal cord, and lower ones do not send messages from the spinal cord to the muscles. Therefore, the muscles do not receive signals to move, or receive them but in a damaged form. As a result, the muscles start to change. They become weaker and smaller. A person loses an ability to move.
  • Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible brain disease that damages a person's thinking operations, memory, and speaking ability, along with movement failure in the late stages. Over time, a person loses an ability to talk, to remember, to solve simple tasks, and to move as a normal person. As in case with ALS, Alzheimer's diseases affects the first participant in the chain of the neuromuscular system that is brain. Abnormal deposits of protein form tau tangles and amyloid plaques in the brain causing specific harmful changes. As a result, healthy neurons start to work inefficiently. Over some time, motor neurons in the brain lose their basic function. They do not communicate with each other and send messages of the central nervous system. This causes speaking disability and movement failure.
  • Huntington's disease is a genetic disorder that makes an effect on the neuromuscular and the central nervous systems. It leads to the muscle coordination failure, psychiatric disorders, and cognitive decline. ALS damages the motor neurons at all the stages of the neuromuscular process, including brain, spinal cord, and the muscles. Huntington's disease destroys the motor neurons located in the brain only. However, the reason for the disease is different. It lies in a single defective gene on the chromosome four. Because of the defective protein called huntingtin the abnormal brain changes occur. A person diagnosed with Huntington's experiences a severe decline in cognitive skills, such as thinking and task-solving, and performs abnormal body movements.
  • Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that basically makes an effect on the body movements. It is characterized by a gradual loss of the neuromuscular system control. This leads to the abnormal changes in body movements, such as tremoring of hands and head, slowness and stiffness. Over time, a person, diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, may experience some difficulties in speaking, walking, and completing simple tasks. As it has been mentioned above, ALS attaints the neuromuscular system, destroying the motor neurons. A quite similar process occurs during Parkinson's disease.

Consequently, all the disorders, described above, affect the neuromuscular system, causing the muscles weakness and movement failure. None of them can be cured. Although there are various treatment programs that help patients to fight the symptoms and to live out a normal life.


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