Sample Healthcare Paper on Pathophysiology paper on the disease ALS


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is one of the neurological diseases which are rarely found. For example, among a thousand individuals only two might have this disorder (Riederer, Kopp and Pearson, 2012).  The disease involves the neurons mainly the motor neurons. Neurons aids in the transmission of impulse from the central nervous system to the rest of the muscles in the body: that is why the neurons are known as the controller of voluntary muscle movement. The disease is symptomatic and the symptoms worsens with time, some of the symptoms entails; difficulty in walking, breathing, and eating among others. The symptoms are evident when someone has already have muscle weaknesses or stiffness. Therefore ALS is a serious disorder and anybody who is affected normally dies from the respiratory failure after some time.

Description of the pathology

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease is a serious disorder that leads to loss in functionality of the motor neurons and finally leads to loss of these neurons. The whole process of the loss of these motor nerves takes place mainly in the anterior horns and the motor nuclei of the brain (Riederer, Kopp and Pearson, 2012).In the anterior horns, the process may alter the cell bodies of the alpha motor neurons hence resulting to malfunction of the motor nerves. Also, in the motor nuclei the skeletal muscles in the brain and back dorsal may be affected since the named nuclei connects to other nerves in the central nervous system.

ALS results when the upper and the lower motor neurons loss away and die: this activates the reactive gliosis to replace the death neurons (Honn and Zeldin, 2019). As a result, the electric impulse is never realized in the body system. Therefore, as the motor neurons degenerates the axons are affected for example, their Myelin sheath begin to degenerate causing nonspecific reaction to the glial cells(gliosis).The named changes mainly affect the nervous system(Brainstem and spinal cord) (Gilman,2016).Therefore, ALS disease affects the motor neurons in the spinal cord and in the brainstem.

Additionally, the study of the dead tissues(Autopsy)of the ALS patients normally portrays the loss of motor neurons and the severe damage to the lower motor neurons together (Wainger, n.d.) Also, due to the loss of myelin sheath in the motor nerves the ventral roots of the nerves becomes thin and weaker due to loss of nerves(denervation). However there is always evidence of additional nerve (reinnervation) in the affected muscles. Moreover, this disease is associated with Frontal temporal dementia (FTD-ALS) which results from a disorder that causes neurons to degenerate.FTD sometimes brings about confusion in the diagnosis of ALS as the physiologists may come out with the same findings for both of the two diseases.

Normal anatomy of the major body system affected

ALS disease leads to death of the motor nerves mainly in the brain and spinal cord. However, since the motor neurons controls the muscle movement as well, malfunctions of the muscles occur when they die. The muscle loss makes the movement of the body so difficult and the patient automatically loss the ability to speak, walk, breath and swallow (Gilman, 2016).All these results when the body does not receive signal from the brain for a very long time. So, when the muscles become redundant they tend to grow thin and weaker.

Therefore, the disease damages the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord (Hurley, n.d). So, when the motor neurons are damaged, they are unable to send impulses that control the muscle movement in the body. In this case, the upper motor neuron sends impulses from the brain to the spinal cord while the lower motor neurons from the spinal cord to the muscles.

Normal pathology of the body system affected

ALS makes the muscles to loss their nourishment so that they become weaker and smaller. The muscles lack nourishment when the disease affects the sides of the spinal cord hence denaturing the nerves that nourish the muscles (Gilman, 2016). Therefore, the hardening (sclerosis) of the affected part of the spinal cord occurs. Consequently, the disease causes the loss of the motor neurons as it causes severe damage to the lower motor neuron. As a result, the motor nerves losses their myelin sheath and the nerves becomes smaller and weaker hence unable to carry impulses to the spinal cord and the rest of the muscles in the body system.

Mechanism of pathology

Motor neurons functions well when they are not altered however, the presence of the following disorders leads to the malfunction of these neurons; mitochondria abnormalities, Excitotoxicity and axon transport abnormalities (Riederer, Kopp and Pearson, 2012).Among others.

Mitochondria abnormalities

Mitochondria are the main source of energy for the nerves and muscles, they provide energy in form of ardenosinetryphosphate (ATP).In this category, they maintain calcium homeostasis for the neuron ( Agostinis and Samali, 2012). . Therefore the malfunction of mitochondria may expose the motor neuron to more damage

Glutamate Excitotoxicity

Glutamate is the main neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS) (Riederer, Kopp and Pearson, 2012). However, high concentration of glutamate denatures the functions of the motor neuron since it becomes toxic. As a result, the named neurons waste away and die with time.

Axon transport abnormalities

Axons transmit impulses between the cell body and the terminal axons so, it is import organ in neuronal development, survival, shape and function (Hurley, n.d.) During the process of impulse transmission, axon uses energy from the mitochondria. Therefore, the malfunction of the axon in this case leads to the abnormal renewal of mitochondria in the motor axons leading to accumulation of mitochondria and deficiency in energy transfer hence death of the neurons.


ALS has no well defined ways of prevention. Even for that, the persons affected can undergo clinical trials and participate in national ALS registry and the national ALS Biorepository (Bromberg, 2017).So; such participations can help the researchers carry out keen studies to find out the possible ways of preventing this disease and the risk factors. Also, the multidisciplinary clinics give their best care to the patients affected by the diseases. Additionally, clinics may improve the life span of people living with the disease.



According to Gilman (2016), the drug riluzole and edaravone has been found to treat and reduce damage to the motor neurons. The drugs reduce damage to the motor neurons by decreasing the level of glutamate which is a chemical substance meant for transporting information between nerve cells and motor neurons

Physical therapy

Aerobic exercises are recommended for patients with ALS disease. The aerobic exercises include; walking, swimming and cycling strengthens the unaffected muscles, improve the cardiac vessels health, and fight depression and fatigue. Also such exercises prevent the weakening and shortening of the muscles. Additionally an occupational therapist normally recommends the use of devices such as ramps, braces and wheelchairs among others

Treatment can also be done by offering speech therapy for those patients who have difficulty speaking. Nutritional therapy is provided to the care givers so that they understand the type of foods that can give enough therapy to the patients. Breathing support is given to the patients with breathing difficulties; this help in maintaining their health and enabling them to stay safe always.


Lastly, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is one of the neurological diseases that affects people nowadays. The disease affects the motor neurons making them weaker and thin just as discussed above. As a result, the neurons cannot perform their normal function of transmitting impulses from the brain to the rest of the body muscles. The symptom entails difficulty in breathing, locomotion, eating and speaking among others. Nevertheless, it can be treated through several means namely; administering medication, physical therapy, nutritional therapy and offering breathing support among others. Also the disease can be prevented through clinical trials and participate in national ALS registry to help the scholars research ways of preventing this disease. Therefore, ALS is a serious disease and several prevention measures should be implemented to help in curbing it properly.



Bromberg, M. (2017). Motor unit number estimation (MUNE). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Gilman, S. (2016). Neurobiology of disease. Burlington, Mass.: Elsevier Academic Press.

Honn, K., & Zeldin, D. (2019). The Role of Bioactive Lipids in Cancer, Inflammation and

            Related Diseases. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Hurley, M. Omic studies of neurodegenerative disease.

Riederer, P., Kopp, N., & Pearson, J. (2012). An Introduction to neurotransmission in health and

                                        disease. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Agostinis, P., & Samali, A. (2012). Endoplasmic reticulum stress in health and disease.

Dordrecht: Springer.

Wainger, B. Stem Cell-Based Modeling in Pain and ALS.