Stages of ALS
Once ALS starts, it almost always progresses. Most people with ALS eventually lose the ability to walk, dress, write, speak, swallow and breathe, and their life span is shortened.
Early symptoms of ALS often include muscle weakness or stiffness. Progression of weakness, wasting and paralysis of the muscles of the limbs, trunk, and those that control vital functions generally follows.
What differs most for every person is how fast and in what order symptoms and progression occur. And, while the average survival time is three years, about 20% of people with ALS live five years, 10% survive 10 years and 5% live 20 years or longer.
Progression isn’t always a straight line in an individual, either. It’s common to have periods lasting weeks to months with very little or no loss of function.
There are even very rare examples of significant improvement and recovery of lost function. These ALS "arrests" and "reversals" are, unfortunately, usually transient. Less than 1% of people with ALS will have significant improvement in function lasting 12 months or longer.