Ice Bucket Challenge. Is it worth it?

Ice Bucket Challenge. Is it worth it?

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During the past several weeks people from all over have been dumping buckets of ice water over their heads. Is this a crazy fad? Why are they doing it? The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge involves daring someone to dump ice water over their head. It has raised awareness and millions of dollars in donations towards fighting a disease called ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a-mi-o-TROE-fik LAT-ur-ul skluh-ROE-sis), or ALS, is a rapidly progressive fatal disease that attacks the nerve cells(neurons) in the brain and spinal cord. ALS
is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous New York Yankee who died from it in 1941.

In the US approximately 5,600 new cases of ALS are diagnosed per year. This is about one new case every 90 minutes. ALS can affect anyone regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomics status. Usually people who develop ALS are between 40 and 75. It is more common in white, non-Hispanic men.

With ALS, the nerve cells that control the voluntary muscle movement of your muscles gradually deteriorate meaning they begin to waste away. In approximately 60% of people who have ALS muscle weakness is the initial sign. It often, but not always, begins in the hands, feet or limbs, then spreads to other parts of the body. In the beginning the symptoms may be so subtle that they can be easily overlooked.

Early symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty walking, or climbing stairs, tripping over things like a throw rug
  • Weakness in feet, ankles or legs
  • Weakness in hands such as dropping things
  • Muscle cramps and twitching

Foot drop and Babinski’s sign are two early symptoms that your podiatrist may detect. With foot drop you are unable to lift the front of your foot causing your toes to drag when you walk. People find themselves lifting the whole leg to keep the toes from dragging.

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Foot drop can be connected to brain, nerve, spinal or muscle conditions. These can include peroneal nerve injuries, stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, trauma, polio, ALS, and muscular dystrophy.  Babinski’s sign is a reflex when the sole of the foot is tickled and the big toe turns upward instead of downwards.

Highlands County Chiropractor, Dr. Edward Vickers, Jr. of Sebring, who has ALS, states “It is important to see your healthcare professional when you have these symptoms as early diagnosis can improve your quality of life with the use of braces called AFO’s and also with respiratory support”.

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No one test can definitively diagnose ALS. Instead, the diagnosis of ALS is based mainly on the symptoms and sign your doctors observe and a series of tests to rule out other diseases.

ALS eventually spreads to all parts of the body. The muscles of the limbs, and those that control talking, swallowing, and breathing will eventually get weaker, waste away and become paralyzed. Most people with ALS will die from respiratory failure within three to five years onset of symptoms. But, 10% can survive for 10 years or more.

Although there is no cure, there is a medication which slows down the progression of this disease. Dr. Vickers believes the earlier you get on the medication Riluzole, generally the longer your life expectancy. Dr. Vickers says “Also important, is getting enrolled in an ALS Clinic through one of the teaching hospitals in the state”. He and his family are thankful for the public awareness the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought ALS.

So the next time you are dared to dump a cold bucket of ice water on your head consider it a privilege because your donations are helping to promote awareness and research to find a cure for ALS.

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Dr. Olga Garcia Luepschen and the Gentle Foot Care Center are located on US 27. For more information visit www.gentlefootcarecenter.com or call 863-314-9255.

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