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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Veterans: Review of the Scientific Literature

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Veterans

Review of the Scientific Literature (2006)
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) our Lou Gehrig's disease is a fatal, mostly non-familial disease that affects the nervous system of humans by causing the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The degeneration halts communication between the nervous system and voluntary muscles in the body. This leads to muscle paralysis and eventually the muscles that aid in breathing are affect; causing respiration to fail. The disease, which affects 20,000-30,000 men and women in the United States at any given time, has no effective treatment; most people with ALS die from respiratory failure within 5 years of the onset of symptoms.

Recent epidemiologic studies report an association between the development of ALS and prior service in the U.S. military. The studies evaluated either veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War or veterans who served in the military in the period 1910-1982. Due to these findings, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) asked the National Academies to conduct an assessment of the potential relationship between military service and the later development of ALS. The project was assigned to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which appointed a committee and gave it the task of evaluating the scientific literature on ALS in veterans.

The committee began its work by identifying medical and scientific literature on ALS. PubMed, a database created and managed by the National Library of Medicine. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Veterans; Review of the Scientific Literature presents the findings of this committee. The committee reviewed, evaluated, and summarized the scientific literature on ALS in veterans, composed primarily of peer-reviewed, published literature. This report includes the recommendations of the committee.


Suggested Citation

Institute of Medicine. 2006. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Veterans: Review of the Scientific Literature. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

62 pages | 6 x 9
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-10254-4
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-18079-5

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