Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve no doubt been hit by the “Ice Bucket Challenge” wave on your Facebook feed, a social media campaign meant to raise funds and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS). But the ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease) cause is about more than watching entertaining videos of friends and celebrities dump buckets of freezing water over their heads. Until this week, many of those videos posted didn’t even explain the disease, the reason behind the campaign, nor the effect that this fatal neurological disease has on those living with ALS.
Don’t get me wrong; I believe that campaigns like the Ice Bucket Challenge are positive to spread consciousness. However, here are eight quick facts that you might not know about ALS (the cause behind all of those icy cold buckets of water over the head)…
1. What is ALS?
ALS is a fatal motor neuron disease that causes muscle spasticity and rapidly progressive muscle atrophy, a degeneration that gradually leads to loss of control over muscle movement, leading to paralysis, and eventually, death. The disease is characterized by initial, and often subtle, symptoms of muscle stiffness, weakness and cramps; muscle spasms; and complications swallowing (dysphagia), speaking (dysarthria), and breathing (dyspnea).