LONDON: British physicist Stephen Hawking was one of the most famous sufferers of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the fatal neurological disease that paralysed his body but did nothing to curb his contribution to science, reports AFP.
The rare condition normally claims the lives of those who have it within two to three years of diagnosis, making Hawking’s five-decade fight to overcome the disease an extraordinary exception.
The neurodegenerative condition attacks the motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, hampering their ability to communicate with muscles and control voluntary movements, leading to eventual paralysis.
Early symptoms of stiffness and muscle weakness worsen over time as victims gradually lose the ability to walk, speak and breathe.
The deadly condition is very rare, occurring on average among two new cases per 100,000 people every year, most typically among individuals aged between 55 and 65.
It became something of a household name in 2014 after the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge”, which saw people upload videos of themselves pouring cold water over their heads in a bid to raise awareness about the disease.