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Lou Gehrig May Not Have Had Disease Bearing Name

Aug 17, 2010

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Researchers have reportedly found a link between head injuries like concussions and other head trauma and a neuron-wasting condition that resembles the fatal condition known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Scientists found damaging proteins in the brains and spines of athletes with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerativebrain condition linked to head trauma.

Evidently, some people with CTE have been mistakenly diagnosed with amyolateral sclerosis or ALS the disease named for the Gehrig, the famous Yankee baseball player of the 1930s, according to reports.

Maybe even one of them was Gehrig himself. While the new research doesn't discuss Gehrig specifically, there's the inescapable and intriguing possibility that Gehrig may have hadCTE, not ALS.

A study to be published Wednesday in theJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology discusses the research.

An excerpt from the New York Times:

A peer-reviewedpaper to be published Wednesday in a leading journal of neuropathology, however, suggests that the demise of athletes likeGehrigand soldiers given a diagnosis ofamyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known asLou 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 theVeterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Mass., and theBoston University School of Medicine, the primary researchers of brain damage among deceasedNational Football League players, said that markings in the spinal cords of two players and one boxer who also received a diagnosis ofA.L.S. indicate 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.

HBO's "Real Sports" program is scheduled to air a report Tuesday evening on the new research and the possibilities it raises. Again, this is intriguing information.

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