ALS, or amyotrophic laterals sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their demise. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.
With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe. The motor nerves that are affected when you have ALS are the motor neurons that provide voluntary movements and muscle control. Examples of voluntary movements are making the effort to reach for a smart phone or step off a curb. These actions are controlled by the muscles in the arms and legs.