Myth: ALS is a motor neurone disease

Recent published research shows that the majority of ALS patients suffers from substantial neuronal damage above and beyond that to motor neurons - redefining ALS as a generalized neurological syndrome affecting the entire brain, with motor neurons affected in particular - and that could very well be coincidental, in the sense that when they are not particularly affected, the syndrome is called Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons or Alzheimer's.

In up to 15% of cases, ALS patients suffer brain damage to the non-motor neuron parts of their brains so severe that it leads to a dual diagnosis such as ALS-dementia and in an additional 50% of ALS patients, there is still so much brain damage to the rest of the brain that it can be detected in a brain MRI[1] [2]. Research shows that at least two third of ALS patients suffer generalized brain damage in addition to motor neuron damage.[3]

ALS brain

1 N. Sudharshan, C. Hanstock, B. Hui, T. Pyra, W. Johnston, S. Kalra. Degeneration of the Mid-Cingulate Cortex in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Detected In Vivo with MR Spectroscopy. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 2010; 32 (2): 403 DOI: 10.3174/ajnr.A2289

2 U. Usman, C. Choi, R. Camicioli, P. Seres, M. Lynch, R. Sekhon, W. Johnston, S. Kalra. Mesial Prefrontal Cortex Degeneration in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A High-Field Proton MR Spectroscopy Study. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 2011; DOI: 10.3174/ajnr.A2590

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