ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's disease," is an incurable, degenerative neurological disorder. For reasons that are not understood, the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement gradually deteriorate. ALS can prove difficult to diagnosis because the initial symptoms are both subtle and vague, and can be attributed to a number of conditions. Average life expectancy after diagnosis ranges from 2 to 5 years. (1) There are no known therapies to effectively halt the progression of ALS. Men and women who have served in the U.S. military are 60 percent more likely than civilians to develop a fatal muscle-wasting disease such as ALS.(2) In addition, 1990-1991 Gulf War veterans have been shown to be twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population, though the reasons for this incidence are not understood yet.
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