The Golden Globe Award-winning actress, Sandra  Bullock bid farewell to her enduring companion Bryan Randall on August 5th. Randall had been battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a condition that he had been grappling with for more than a year. The recipient of an Academy Award, Bullock crossed paths with Randall, a former model turned photographer, at her son Louis’ birthday celebration back in 2015, where he was enlisted to capture the special moments.

Randall’s encounter with ALS commenced years prior to his official diagnosis in 2020. Throughout his journey, he resolutely chose to maintain a discreet profile, shying away from the limelight, both in regard to himself and his affliction.

What is ALS Disease and why is it Dangerous?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH), Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is very a rare neurological disease that affects motor neurons—those nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. 

ALS disease is progressive, meaning the symptoms get worse over time. The worst part of this disease it has no cure for now, and also no way to prevent it. As motor neurons degenerate and die, they stop sending messages to the muscles, which causes the muscles to weaken, start to twitch (fasciculation), and waste away (atrophy). Eventually, the brain loses its ability to initiate and control voluntary movements. 

Those who are at risk?

As per available information, while ALS can affect anyone, the vulnerability is notably elevated within the age group of 60 to 85 years. According to data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there’s a marginal inclination for males to be at a slightly higher predisposition to the onset of ALS.

Early signs and symptoms of ALS

  • Early symptoms include:
  • Muscle twitches in the arm, leg, shoulder, or tongue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tight and stiff muscles (spasticity)
  • Muscle weakness affecting an arm, a leg, the neck, or diaphragm
  • Slurred and nasal speech
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.

 Treatment to reverse ALS

Well, when it comes to ALS, there’s no magic trick to turn things around.

The treatments we have for ALS can’t exactly make it disappear, but they do help make life a bit more manageable for those dealing with it.

So, how do we tackle this neurological challenge? It’s kind of like a team effort.

We’re talking about making some lifestyle tweaks, getting into rehab mode, diving into physical and occupational therapy, having tools to communicate better, lending a hand with breathing, and tossing in a few meds to ease the symptoms. It’s all about making things a tad easier on folks living with ALS.