Stephen Hawking paralyzed

How Did Stephen Hawking Get Paralyzed? Illness And Health Update

Stephen Hawking was almost fully paralyzed and confined to wheelchair and speaking devices because of his Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease.

At 22, scientist Stephen Hawking was told he would live only for a few more years after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neuron disease. However, he made it to his 70s.

Stephen William Hawking was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. He was the research director at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge.

The British scientist was well-recognized for his work related to black holes and relativity. He wrote several popular science books, including A Brief History of Time.

Stephen Hawking Paralyzed: How Did It Happen? Illness And Health Update

Dr. Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which ultimately caused his paralysis over the decades.

He was 21 and in graduate school at the time of diagnosis. As ALS progresses, motor neuron degeneration in the brain affects messages to muscles in the body and causes paralysis. 

People with ALS typically maintain memory, intelligence, and personality, even in the late stages of the disease. The same was the case for Stephen Hawking.

Stephen Hawking paralyzed how
Stephen Hawking lived with paralysis for decades. (Source: NBC News)

As Stepehen’s issue worsened, he lost his speech and used a speech-generating device with a handheld switch to communicate initially and eventually by using a single cheek muscle.

The incurable disease made him limited to a wheelchair. However, he continued to work, write and travel.

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On March 14, 2018, Stephen Hawking passed away at 79, after living with the motor neuron disease for over 50 years. He took his last breath at his home in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Who Were Stephen Hawking Parents?

Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England, to his parents, Frank and Isobel Eileen Hawking.

Despite the family’s financial difficulties, Stephen’s parents attended the University of Oxford, where Isobel read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and Frank read medicine.

Isobel worked as a secretary for a medical research institute, whereas Frank worked as a medical researcher. Stephen had two younger sisters, Philippa and Mary, and one adopted brother, Edward Frank David (1955–2003).

When Stephen was eight, his father became head of the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research, and the family moved to St Albans, Hertfordshire.

Stephen Hawking Wife, Children, And Married Life

Stephen Hawking married his wife, Jane Wilde Hawking, in 1965. He first met Jane at a Party in 1962, a year before he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease.

In October 1964, the two became engaged, aware of the potential challenges ahead due to Stephen’s shortened life expectancy and physical limitations.

Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane on their wedding. (Source: All That’s Interesting)

Stephen later shared that the engagement gave him “something to live for.” The two wed on July 14, 1965, in their common hometown of St Albans. They had three children: Robert (b. 1967), Lucy (b. 1970), and Timothy (b. 1979).

In 1977, Jane met organist Jonathan Hellyer Jones while singing in a church choir. He became close to the Hawking family, and by the mid-1980s, Jane and Jonathan had developed romantic feelings for each other. Jane shared that her husband was accepting of the situation.

The marriage had been strained owing to many factors like his health condition, the constant need for nurses and assistants in the House, celebrity status, and contrasting religious beliefs.

In the late 1980s, Stephen grew close to one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. In 1990, he told Jane that he was leaving her for Mason. Following their divorce in 1995, Stephen married Elaine.

However, the two quietly divorced in 2006, and Stephen resumed being closer to Jane, his children, and his grandchildren.

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