Saturday, August 21, 2010

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

[posted 8/17/10 to]

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

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

Irv Muchnick

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