Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. As the disease progresses the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
The initial symptoms of ALS can be quite varied in different people. One person may experience tripping over carpet edges, another person may have trouble lifting and a third person's early symptom may be slurred speech. The rate at which ALS progresses can be quite variable from one person to another. Although the mean survival time with ALS is three to five years, many people live five, ten or more years. In a small number of people, ALS is known to remit or halt its progression, though there is no scientific understanding as to how and why this happens. Symptoms can begin in the muscles of speech, swallowing or in the hands, arms, legs or feet. Not all people with ALS experience the same symptoms or the same sequences or patterns of progression. But, progressive muscle weakness and paralysis are universally experienced.
After Frank E. Mayak's death from ALS, his wife, Shirley and his family wished to be sure those living with ALS (PALS), their families and friends and survivors would be able to find support and information that was not available to them. Through a generous endowment from the Mayak family the ALS support group was founded in November 2005.The group is cofaciliated by Dr. Sharon Plank and Janet Goodard, RN.
The group meets the second Tuesday of the month, from 4:00-5:30 at the John P. Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Institute. For more information, please call (814) 269-5288.
Check to see when the next support group meets: Calendar of Events.