Did Lou Gehrig Actually Have Lou Gehrig’s Disease?

A recent study published in the August 2010 Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology suggests that some people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, may not actually have that condition. Instead, the study suggests that some professional athletes, soldiers, and others who are diagnosed with ALS instead have brain injuries that eroded the central nervous system in ways similar to ALS and were incorrectly diagnosed with ALS.

While Lou Gehrig’s case was not looked at specifically in the study, he may be exactly the type of individual who was misdiagnosed. The famed Yankee suffered many concussions in his professional baseball career and in his high school and college football career and he continued to play despite his brain injuries.

The study does not suggest that all cases of ALS are a result of brain trauma, only that some cases of significant brain damage are misdiagnosed as ALS. In order for patients to get the best possible treatment for brain injuries and for ALS it is important that the correct condition be diagnosed and that researchers take a better look at the clinical standards for making diagnoses and treating patients who present with similar symptoms to very different, and dangerous, medical conditions.

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