ALS: All you need to know about the disease Stephen Hawking suffered for five decades

New Delhi: Stephen Hawking, renowned British physicist, breathed his last on Wednesday, March 14 after suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the fatal neurological disease. He was 76.

The legendary scientist was diagnosed with the condition in 1963 and lived with it for more than five decades.

Here are a few points one needs to know about the disease that claimed the life of the cosmologist:

1. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as ALS, is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease. It affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that make the muscles of both the upper and lower body work.

2. The disease is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player who is believed to have died from the illness in 1941.

3. Early symptoms of the disease include stiffness and muscle weakness that worsens over time and victims gradually lose the ability to walk, speak and breathe.

4. Currently, there is no cure or treatment that halts or reverses the condition. However, there are some options that helps to manage the symptoms.

5. According to ALS Association, the average survival time for those affected by the condition is three years.

6. Only five percent of the patients live for 20 years or more.

7. ALS came into the limelight in 2014 after the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge”, with people uploading videos of themselves pouring ice-cold water over their heads in a bid to raise awareness about the disease.

(With Agency inputs)