How Stephen Hawking survived more than any other ALS patient?

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Stephen Hawking, the legendary astrophysicist, and cosmologist bid Adios to the material world on March 14, 2018. Apart from making his strong presence felt as an acclaimed physicist, Stephen Hawking was also a living example of triumph which won physical disability.

The scientist who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1963 surprisingly lived until his age of 76, and throughout his life, he chased his dreams and opened new ways of thoughts to space buffs and other experts all around the world.

Hawking: An ALS patient who lived longer than any patient in history

According to the official website of Stephen Hawking, the cosmologist battled and survived the condition for an unprecedented span of 55 years. The astrophysicist lived his entire adulthood with ALS, and unlike other patients, he did not develop any cognitive disorders, a crucial factor which helped him to give valuable contributions to the study of black holes and space.

As per statistics, only 5 percent of people with ALS live more than 20 years, and Hawking is now undoubtedly the longest survivor of this condition.

"He progressed to the point where he was unable to move or speak, but he used things like eye movement and other technologies to speak so he was mentally extremely active — he had a remarkably long, and in some ways healthy battle," said Lucie Bruijn, a chief scientist at the ALS Association.

Factors which helped Hawking to live long

The case of Hawking still remains a real mystery to the world of science. According to experts, it might be genetical traits and environmental factors which helped Hawking to live for 55 years with the condition. It should be also noted that Hawking had remarkable access to technology and modern health care, and it might have also helped him to survive the condition for a long time.

"If you get assistance to move and speak, the quality of life will improve — the fact that he could continue to work is a huge aspect of mental health. It's a very complex disease and his slow progression and long life just reflects the fact that it's very variable," added Lucie.

A real case of medical mystery

Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21. Being a progressive degenerative condition, most of the patients who get diagnosed with ALS die within two or three years after the prognosis. But Hawking lived more than half a century and this compels many experts to consider his case a medical miracle.

Even many doctors who treated Hawking were surprised to see the way in which he survived the disease for so many years. In 2012, neurologist Leo McCluskey of the University of Pennsylvania told Scientific American told Scientific American that Hawking's case is an exception, and he is certainly an outlier.

Interestingly, on January 08, 2018, a group of conspiracy theorists claimed that Stephen Hawking has died long ago, and the scientist whom we saw until March 14 is his lookalike.

Stephen Hawking: An inspiration to many

Stephen Hawking through his life proved that being diagnosed with ALS is not the end of anyone's life. During his life, he was a major contributor to the ALS community, and also supported various initiatives to understand the disease better.

Even after his death, the legacy of the scientist will rule the world of science, and the whole world is waiting to know whether the predictions and theories put forward by Hawking will get materialized in the coming years.

This article was first published on March 15, 2018