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ALS is a rapidly progressive, fatal disease in which the nerve cells (neurons) stop sending messages to the body's voluntary muscles, which then waste away gradually as they are unable to function. The causes of ALS are as yet unknown and there is no cure at this time.

Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease for the mid-20th century professional U.S. baseball player who contracted the illness, ALS does not affect a person's mind, personality, intelligence, memory or senses. Individuals with ALS do, however, gradually lose their strength and the ability to move their limbs and body, as well as the ability to breathe without ventilation support.

Although there is no known cure for ALS, new drugs have been approved or are being tested to treat the disease. Additionally, a variety of steps can be taken to alleviate symptoms and improve patients' quality of life, all of which are available at Mount Sinai Health System facilities. These include medication, and physical, occupational, speech and nutritional therapies. The ALS Center at Mount Sinai Beth Israel is a certified center of the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter.

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