Chances are you have at least seen a video on your social network of choice of someone you may know dumping ice water over their heads, or possibly even posted one. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has become a mainstream phenomena and significantly raised awareness for those suffering from the chronic illness ALS. Donations have also been on the rise, with the ALS Association reporting over 7 times the amount donated in just the past three weeks compared to the same time period last year. With 260,000 new donors already, the number is expected to continue to climb.
What Is ALS?
ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” after the New York Yankee first baseman who retired due to the illness in 1939 and died two years later. Today, 20% survive more than five years after diagnosis, with 5% living 20 years; physicist Stephen Hawking has lived for over 50 years since his diagnosis. Early symptoms include muscle weakness and stiffness, and progresses into a wasting paralysis. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis affects 350,000 worldwide and it is estimated that 30,000 Americans have the neurodegenerative disease at any given time, with 5600 newly diagnosed each year. ALS kills an average of two out of every 100,000 people annually.
Finding Help on NeedyMeds
While donating to research into this debilitating condition can help find an effective treatment or cure, NeedyMeds offers information on several programs that may be able to help those currently suffering and requiring assistance. Our ALS Resource Page has information and links to Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) for medications commonly prescribed to ALS patients, offering them to patients at low- or no cost. Our Diagnosis-Based Assistance (DBA) page for ALS has several national programs that offer everything from service animals to financial assistance for equipment or home modifications as well as information on the individual ALS Association chapters and other local resources. Additional assistance may also be found in our Chronic, Serious, or Life-Threatening Illness DBA page. NeedyMeds also has information on Scholarships for young ALS patients and those otherwise affected by the disease who are determined to continue their education.