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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Note: A diagnosis of MS is a qualifying condition for membership into PVA.  There is never a cost to join.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.  It is characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movements.  As the disease progresses, individuals with ALS may experience muscle weakness, twitching, and stiffness, eventually leading to difficulty speaking, swallowing, and breathing.

There is currently no cure for ALS, and treatment primarily focuses on managing symptoms and improving quality of life.  Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and assistive devices such as wheelchairs and ventilators may help individuals with ALS maintain their independence and mobility for as long as possible.

Veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS as individuals who have not served in the military.  The exact reason for this increased risk is unclear, but it is believed to be related to exposure to certain environmental factors and toxins during military service.

In response to this increased risk, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers benefits and services to eligible veterans with ALS and considers it a presumptive condition.  These benefits may include compensation, pension, healthcare services, and assistive devices and equipment access.  The VA also supports research efforts to understand the causes of ALS better and develop new treatments for the disease.

Minnesota Paralyzed Veterans of America supports our ALS veterans in expedited ways.  We offer support, peer mentoring, and resources.  Veterans with ALS should speak with their healthcare provider and the VA to explore available benefits and treatment options.  PVA can assist veterans diagnosed with ALS as they navigate through benefits applications and can provide resources for both veterans and families.