The Froedtert & MCW ALS Clinic is one of 52 to be officially certified by the ALS Association in the United States. Read more about our Certified Treatment Center of Excellence in the ALS Association Blog.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive disease of the nervous system that attacks specialized nerve cells known as motor neurons, which extend from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to muscles throughout the body. As these nerve cells deteriorate, they lose the ability to control voluntary muscle movement.

ALS Symptoms

Symptoms of ALS can include:

  • Slurring or hoarseness in speech
  • Difficulty in swallowing or controlling saliva
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Weakness or tiredness in the arms and legs
  • Clumsiness
  • Muscle twitches or cramps
  • Muscle wasting

It's estimated that about 30,000 people in the United States have ALS. Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, although the disease can occur in younger people as well. ALS is more common in men than in women.

Slowing ALS Symptoms

Patients with ALS receive care within our Neuromuscular Program. Although there is no cure for ALS, the program provides state-of-the-science diagnostic services and access to advanced drug therapies that may slow the progress of the disease's symptoms.

Management is tailored to patients' specific needs, and may include referrals for physical, occupational or speech therapy, among others. Although no curative drug is available, a number of medications may help patients better deal with symptoms such as cramping and drooling. In addition, the program provides comprehensive supportive care to patients and caregivers, helping them to cope with the challenges that the disease presents.