ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease. Ending the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, the disease is still most closely associated with his name. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
ALS icebucket challenge
The challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and challenging others to do the same. A common stipulation is that nominated people have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation.
Steve-O questioned the campaign, suggesting that celebrities’ videos generally forgot to share donation information for ALS charities, and that the initial $15 million dollars in funds was insignificant, given the star power of the celebrities participating. He noted that, of the videos he viewed, only Charlie Sheen and Bill Gates noted that the point is to donate money.
Pamela Anderson refused to take part in the challenge because the use of animal experimentation in ALS research. Members of the pro-life movement criticised the campaign because of the connection between embryonic stem cell research and ALS research.
On August 22, 2014, Brian O’Neill, a physician at the Detroit Medical Center, warned that the challenge may have adverse health effects on participants, including potentially inducing a vagal response which might, for example, lead to unconsciousness in people taking blood pressure medications.
Criticism also targeted the waste of water.