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08-17-2010, 06:01 PM #1
Lou Gehrig may not have had Lou Gehrig's disease?
Study Says Brain Trauma Can Mimic A.L.S
In the 71 years since the Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig declared himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” despite dying from a disease that would soon bear his name, he has stood as America’s leading icon of athletic valor struck down by random, inexplicable fate.
A peer-reviewed paper to be published Wednesday in a leading journal of neuropathology, however, suggests that the demise of athletes like Gehrig and soldiers given a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, might have been catalyzed by injuries only now becoming understood: concussions and other brain trauma.
Although the paper does not discuss Gehrig specifically, its authors in interviews acknowledged the clear implication: Lou Gehrig might not have had Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Doctors at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Mass., and the Boston University School of Medicine, the primary researchers of brain damage among deceased National Football League players, said that markings in the spinal cords of two players and one boxer who also received a diagnosis of A.L.S. indicated that those men did not have A.L.S. at all. They had a different fatal disease, doctors said, caused by concussionlike trauma, that erodes the central nervous system in similar ways.
The finding could prompt a redirection in the study of motor degeneration in athletes and military veterans being given diagnoses of A.L.S. at rates considerably higher than normal, said several experts in A.L.S. who had seen early versions of the paper. Patients with significant histories of brain trauma could be considered for different types of treatment in the future, perhaps leading toward new pathways for a cure.
“Most A.L.S. patients don’t go to autopsy — there’s no need to look at your brain and spinal cord,” said Dr. Brian Crum, an assistant professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “But a disease can look like A.L.S., it can look like Alzheimer’s, and it’s not when you look at the actual tissue. This is something that needs to be paid attention to.”
The finding’s relevance to Gehrig is less clear. But the Yankees legend had a well-documented history of significant concussions on the baseball field, and perhaps others sustained as a battering-ram football halfback in high school and at Columbia University. Given that, it’s possible that Gehrig’s renowned commitment to playing through injuries like concussions, which resulted in his legendary streak of playing in 2,130 consecutive games over 14 years, could have led to his condition.
“Here he is, the face of his disease, and he may have had a different disease as a result of his athletic experience,” said Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the neuropathology laboratory for the New England Veterans Administration Medical Centers and the lead neuropathologist on the study.
Gehrig’s name does not appear in the paper; his case was discussed in interviews merely as an illustration of the new uncertainty surrounding cases resembling his, said Dr. Robert Stern, who serves with Dr. McKee as co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. The cause of his disease will most likely never be determined because his remains were cremated, and now lie in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, N.Y.
More significantly, both doctors said, the finding solidifies a long-suspected connection between A.L.S.-like motor disease and head trauma experienced in collision sports and combat.“There are only two means of refuge from the miseries of life:
Music and Cats!” Albert Schweitzer
08-18-2010, 12:33 PM #2
This article was very fascinating. Gehrig is my favorite player, and thinking about what these doctors have discovered and how Gehrig suffered several concussions during his playing career, I can see this being true. I hope and don't think that this will impact contributions towards ALS research. I hope that through more research and development that anyone that plays a sport will have the protection they need to prevent these neurological disorders.
08-18-2010, 01:29 PM #3
New name for the disease: "Might Be Lou Gehrig's Disease"AAT: 2012~Rob Brantly 2011~Daniel Fields 2010~Alden Carrithers
08-20-2010, 12:47 PM #4
If/when public awareness begins to catch up with the research results in this area, it's not hard to see a potential for the effect to be devastating to youth football. Based on my understanding of what has been learned so far, I would not want a child of mine anywhere near a football field.It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting. - Tom Stoppard
2013 AAT: Javier Betancourt (GCL Tigers/IF)
08-20-2010, 01:05 PM #5
How ironic this would be if true.
I have a probably irrational fear of contracting ALS. It's an automatic death sentence, and a horrible way to die.
08-25-2010, 12:45 PM #6
08-25-2010, 12:49 PM #7
2010 AAL Louis Delmas - 84 tackles 2 sacks 2 FF - Pro Bowl Alternate
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2010 AAW Johan Franzen (Mule) - 76 games 28 goals 27 assists +5
2011 AAT Jhonny Peralta .324/.359/.500 1 HR 4 RBI
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