Was It ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’ Or Brain Trauma? A Fascinating New Study

Alan Schwarz of The New York Times, whose ongoing reports on concussions in sports are priceless, today previews a new medical study suggesting that athletes diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” – including Gehrig himself – often suffered, instead from chronic brain trauma, which can mimic the symptoms of ALC. See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/sports/18gehrig.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&hp.

The ramifications are obvious for the studies of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in the late wrestler Chris Benoit and other dead athletes in a range of sports: CTE’s credibility as an explanation grows.

What I can add to the Times story is my own, as yet unspecific, memory of reports out of San Francisco a number of years ago that an inexplicable cluster of retired 49ers football players were coming down with ALS. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more on this from the three main groups studying CTE.

One of them, Dr. Julian Bailes’ research institute at West Virginia University, is featured in a four-part series on a new ABC News program, Nightline Prime, starting Thursday. The promo for the series, called “Secrets of Your Mind,” also promises a new interview with Michael Benoit, Chris’s father and a leading activist for research on brain injuries in sports. See http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Prime/nightline-prime-secrets-mind/story?id=11394776&page=1.

Irv Muchnick

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