The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – What’s It All About?

No doubt over the past few months you’ve seen the videos online of people dumping icy buckets of water on their heads, celebrities included.  But what is it in aid of and what on earth does the icy water have to do with anything?  I did some research…

What does ALS stand for? 

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

What is ALS?

ALS is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that progressively effects the nerve cells responsible for supplying electrical stimulation to the muscles.  When the signals between the brain cells and the muscles are disrupted it interferes with muscle activity which means that activities such as walking, speaking, breathing and swallowing can be affected.  When the muscles don’t work properly they start to waste away, movement becomes slow and difficult, before all movement can eventually be lost.

Where did the ice bucket challenge come from?

The ice bucket challenge has been around for a long time but in the beginning was not directly related to ALS.  It was only when a man named Chris Kennedy from the US was nominated to do an ice bucket challenge that he accepted and donated his money to ALS because of a family member who suffered from the disease.  Since then the challenge has spread like wildfire with a number of celebrities even getting involved and donating to this great cause.

Does the icy water have any significance to ALS?

Despite the ice bucket challenge having started long before ALS was even involved it does seem that there is some significance to the icy water.  The daughter of an ALS sufferer said that the frozen sensation from the cold water is supposed to represent the difficulty Motor Neurone Disease sufferers have when moving.

What do ALS do with the money they receive?

Before the ice bucket campaign took off the ALS Association had already awarded 21 new grants to scientists all around the world who are focusing on developing therapies for ALS.  With the donations received it looks as though that research will be able to continue for 2-3 more years.  The donations will also help out the ALS clinics that provide therapies for patients.

Have you done the ice bucket challenge?  If not, would you or why not?

Image via media1s-nbcnews.com