Lou Gehrig's disease is an illness most of us are probably familiar with. But, unless you're a doctor or one of the 30,000 patients living with the fatal illness, you might not know too much about the disease.
Nearly one year ago, Becky Oakman lost her 48 year-old brother Maury Strain. Strain died after a three year battle with A-L-S, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Oakman says, "he lived by himself for a good while, kept driving to work he could only make right turns because he couldn't use one arm at all."
Lou Gehrig's disease progressively kills the motor neurons from the brain to the spinal cord, causing muscles in the body to die. "Eventually somebody becomes completely paralyzed unable to talk, unable to walk, unable to breathe, unable to eat on their own," says Renee Lowery, a patient services coordinator for the ALS Association of Louisiana/Mississippi.
On Thursday, the ALS Association of Louisiana/Mississippi hosted a free workshop educating those directly impacted by Lou Gehrig's disease.
Warning signs of the illness include, muscle weakness and trouble talking. Most cases take several months to diagnose and there's no direct cause for most cases of the illness. "It's sporadic they don't know why, how, it's just no rhyme or reason for it," says Lowery.
Currently in Mississippi 200 people are living with Lou Gehrig's disease. Unfortunately Lou Gehrig's disease is 100% fatal and 90% of those with the disease are expected to die within five years of their diagnosis.
Lowery says "I've had a couple of patients that have lived 10 or 15 years, but it's rare."
Dora Couret's daughter is one of those rare cases. Couret's daughter was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease almost 12 years ago. Couret says, "she's progressed so slowly, actually in the last 5 years she hasn't progressed at all, she's sort of at a plateau."
The local ALS association hosts a Lou Gehrig's disease support group every fourth Wednesday of every month. That group meets at the Methodist Rehabilitation Hospital in Jackson. For more information call the ALS Association of Louisiana/Mississippi at 1-800-891-3746.
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