COLUMBIA (WACH)Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease, is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscles (muscle action we are able to control, such as those in the arms, legs, and face). The disease belongs to a group of disorders known as motor neuron diseases, which are characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons. The onset of ALS may be so subtle that the symptoms are overlooked. The earliest symptoms may include fasciculations, cramps, tight and stiff muscles (spasticity), muscle weakness affecting an arm or a leg, slurred and nasal speech, or difficulty chewing or swallowing. These general complaints then develop into more obvious weakness or atrophy that may cause a physician to suspect ALS.
As the disease progresses, many of the individuals with ALS will eventually lose control over their hands, arms and speech. Tobiiâ??s eye tracking technology enables computers to determine precisely where a person is looking. Instead of using a keyboard and mouse to type, a person with ALS can simply use their gaze to type words that are turned into speech, or connect with others through e-mail, Facebook and the Internet, making independence easier than ever before. With the help of eye control they can still express feelings of anxiety, fear, joy and love, like saying â??I love youâ?? to family and friends.