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Three years later and my sister has no movement.

by Rene'e
(Philadelphia PA)

Question My sister is 54 yrs old and started having problems with opening windows, jars, etc. She started losing muscle mass and now she's not able to walk or use her arms and hands, but she can move her head and wiggle her feet. She said she had a stroke and her nurse said it's ALS. She sleeps with oxygen at night. Is this condition reversible? I was told people can get ALS symptoms after having a stroke.


Answer: I would assume that the nurse would know your sister's diagnosis if she says she does (unless the nurse is telling you that's just her opinion). What you describe does sound like ALS, however, there are other neurologic conditions that can mimic ALS symptoms, but I'm assuming she has already been diagnosed by the doctor since the nurse is telling you that your sister has ALS. If she has not been diagnosed by a doctor, then you won't know what's wrong until she gets an official diagnosis.

What you describe does not sound like stroke. It's possible she could have both conditions, but a gradual loss of muscle mass, use of hands, and inability to move over time is not the pattern for a stroke. Strokes come on abruptly due to damage to the brain from either lack of blood flow (ischemic stroke) or bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke). ALS on the other hand is due to degeneration of neurons and at this time has no cure and is not reversible. It also is genetic in about 5-10% of cases. You can read more about ALS at https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Amyotrophic-Lateral-Sclerosis-ALS-Fact-Sheet.

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