ALS May Be Striking The Stateline

By Alma Valenzuela |

Published 08/20 2014 06:23PM

Updated 08/21 2014 08:49AM

All across the country people are taking the ice bucket challenge, from former presidents to ordinary citizens. The ALS ice bucket challenge is an activity which involves a person dumping a bucket of ice-cold water over their head and then donating money to charity, to combat a deadly and mysterious disease ALS.

"ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis] is a motor disease. We call it a motor neuron disease because patients usually come in with painless weakness, and [then they come back with] progressive weakness, and it's just a gradual damage to the nerves that go to your muscles," said Dr. Marie Walker from Rockford Spine Center. 

ALS works quickly and is often deadly.  "Generally [a patient has] two to five years of life expectancy once they're diagnosed," says Sharpe. 

"We don't really know what causes it," says Dr. Walker.  

"There are some clusters [of ALS sufferers] in Southern Illinois," says Julie Sharpe, Executive Director of the ALS Association Greater Chicago Chapter.  There is also a cluster of ALS patients in Rockford.  One theory as to why is that it could be due to an environmental factor in the area. 

Sharpe questions whether it's any of the following components: "Is it profession based?  Is it because there's an environmental component?  Is it lifestyle choice?  Is it [from] playing sports?"

"There really has been very little research done in the last decade," Dr. Walker states. "There's only one medication that's come out. There's no cure. It's universally fatal. It's really a devastating disease."

Both Dr. Walker and Sharpe hope the Ice Bucket Challenge continues to raise money for more research.

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