Conner did his steam project on ALS, also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He explains that ALS is a disease that affects the motor neurons causing their degeneration and eventually death. He drew a picture of what a healthy motor neuron looks like vs one with ALS. He illustrates the atrophied muscle and the affected axon as well as the cell body. The cause is unknown, but he states that in genetic cases, there is a SOD1 gene mutation that causes the misfolding of proteins. The gene that contains the blueprints of the proteins used in the nerve cells as well as the brain, is also mutated in many cases. Other factors which can increase the chances of developing ALS can include, having contact with toxins, as well as brain trauma from sports injuries. Motor neurons control muscle movement, thus the symptoms usually begin with muscle twitches, speech problems, muscle atrophy and control and can even affect the executive functions. Frontotemporal degeneration is also sometimes seen in patients with ALS. This affect the behavior, memory, and language. Muscle control affects breathing as well. ALS is not curable, and treatments are limited. He states that neurons cannot be repaired using any type of medical interventions however, medications can be used that will potentially slow down the symptoms of ALS and physical therapy can be used to maintain healthy muscles. Having a healthy diet can also be beneficial. There are treatments being researched such as sodium phenylbutyrate that has shown to have positive effects. This was a very informative paper and the drawing was very accurate and well done.
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