The Ice Bucket Challenge

People are pouring ice cold buckets of water over themselves in aid of ALS, a form of motor neurone disease - but what is it?
02 September 2014


A bucket of water with a strong handle


You might have noticed social media is going crazy over the ALS ice bucket challenge. But what's it all about? This week Hannah Tooley and Georgia Mills have our Quick Fire Science on ALS... Bucket of Water

Georgia -   ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is a form of motor neurone disease.

Hannah -   The disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spine.  Specifically motor neurons that control voluntary movements.

Georgia -   These neurones degrade and die over time so they cannot transmit messages from the brain to the muscles.

Hannah -   As muscles stop receiving messages, they begin to shrink and waste away, which is called muscle atrophy.

Georgia -   Symptoms include weak, stiff muscles and difficulty speaking, swallowing and breathing.

Hannah -   While treatments can aim to delay nerve degradation and improve quality of life, there's yet no known cure for ALS, and life expectancy is usually 5 to 10 years after diagnosis.

Georgia -   While classed as a rare disease, ALS can affect around 1 in every 50,000 people.

Hannah -   One in ten cases are genetic, caused by mutations and passed on in families.  The other 90% don't seem to have any known cause, although head trauma, contact sport and drug use have been suggested.

Georgia -   The ice bucket challenge has raised over 60 million pounds so far for the ALS Association Charity, with many people donating to UK-based motor neurone disease charities as well.

Hannah -   So there, you have your Quickfire Science on ALS and in the spirit of the subject, the Naked Scientists took on the ice bucket challenge after donating...


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