Tag Archives: Sarah Martin



Guest Post by Sarah Martin

Fact #1: ALS is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Fact #2: ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after Yankees player Lou Gehrig.

Fact #3: Most people with ALS live 2-5 years after the first signs of the disease. About 10% live for ≥10 years.

Fact #4: Every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed with ALS in the United States.

Fact #5: Early signs of ALS include muscle weakness, twitching, muscle cramps & difficulty speaking or swallowing.

Fact #6: ALS occurs throughout the world and has no socioeconomic, ethnic, or racial boundaries.

Fact #7: There is no single diagnostic test for ALS. Diagnosis is based on symptoms and ruling out other diseases.

Fact #8: The cause of ALS is not known.

Fact #9: ALS does not affect a person’s ability to smell, see, taste, hear, or recognize touch.

Fact #10: French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot discovered ALS in 1869, yet we still have no cure for the disease.

Fact #11: Tests done to diagnose ALS can include electromyography, blood & urine tests, spinal tap & muscle biopsy.

Fact #12: About 5-10% of ALS cases are inherited, also known as familial ALS. It is caused by a genetic mutation.

Fact #13: Most ALS cases are sporadic. It can affect anyone.

Fact #14: US military veterans are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS.

Fact #15: ALS is not contagious.

Fact #16: ALS usually strikes between the ages of 40-70, but can occur in younger adults and the elderly.

Fact #17: ALS is slightly more common in men than women.

Fact #18: ALS = MND (Motor Neuron Disease) in some parts of the world such as the UK and Australia.

Fact #19: A small percentage of people with ALS experience frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

Fact #20: ALS generally spreads from one part of the body to another.

Fact #21: Some public figures with ALS include former NFL player Steve Gleason and physicist Stephen Hawking.

Fact #22: ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Fact #23: Involuntary muscles are not affected in ALS. These include the muscles that control the bladder and heartbeat.

Fact #24: It is estimated that approximately 30,000 people in the United States may be living with ALS at the current time.

Fact #25: Current treatment for ALS focuses on managing symptoms and improving quality of life.

Fact #26: It is essential that people with ALS receive psychological and social support in addition to physical support.

Fact #27: People with ALS work with a multidisciplinary team of doctors to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Fact #28: In 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised millions of dollars for research, patient care and more.

Fact #29: There are organizations & people around the world working hard for a cure for ALS, including ALSA & ALS TDI.

Fact #30: The month of May has been established as ALS Awareness Month in the United States.

Fact #31: We will put an end to ALS one day.

PALS and Nutrition

Guest Post by Sarah Martin

SarahMartinMy name is Sarah Martin. I am a junior neuroscience major at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. When I was 14 years old and a sophomore at the Illinois Mathematics
and Science Academy, my principal and close friend, Dr. Eric McLaren, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that
affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Since his diagnosis, I have been
passionate about fighting ALS. I conduct research at universities in the Midwest, attend support groups in the Chicagoland area to meet pALS and their families, blog about my journey to a cure for the disease, speak at schools about ALS and so much more! Dr.
McLaren passed away from ALS in June of 2014, but I have made it my life’s mission to
put an end to this disease. My future plans include earning a doctorate degree,
becoming an ALS researcher, and helping develop an effective treatment for ALS.
The most important part of my ALS work is the people with ALS (pALS). During my time
at ALS support groups, I have learned that because the disease is characterized by
muscle weakness and atrophy, there are a handful of challenges pALS may face in
regards to eating. Difficulties with upper body coordination may make it difficult to
prepare meals. Weakness of tongue and facial muscles may not only make it tough to
safely chew and swallow food, but can also prolong mealtimes. In addition, aspiration of
solids or liquids into the lungs can result in aspiration pneumonia. pALS may experience
a loss of appetite and fatigue which can make eating a difficult task. As ALS progresses
in a person, the amount of calories consumed typically decreases.
Proper nutrition is vital. The human body requires various nutrients to function. Due to
decreased food intake in ALS, it can be difficult to maintain nutritional needs, but there
are nutritionists, dietitians and other experts working to improve the nutritional status of
pALS. In order to maintain the nutritional needs of pALS, tips for safer chewing and
swallowing techniques can be utilized, such as taking smaller bites, eating slowly and
sitting in an upright position while eating. Healthcare professionals can also assist in
making decisions regarding alternate feeding options, such as a feeding tube.
Maintaining the nutritional needs of pALS is important as it can help slow down the
muscle breakdown process and prevent a decrease in weight loss (nutrition-related). It
can also help keep the immune system strong and improve the quality of life for those
with ALS!

For More Information about Sarah Martin contact:

Sarah’s Mission
A woman on a mission to end ALS/MND/Lou Gehrig’s disease
Follow my journey at www.sarahmartinals.com