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Reports claiming ALS caused by head trauma lacks scientific validation
Date:11/19/2010

A recent study (1) suggesting that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be attributed to "repetitive head trauma experienced in collision sports" lacks scientific epidemiological evidence to support this claim. In a review of the 12-patient study, several experts specializing in motor neuron diseases challenge the findings as entirely pathological and without clinical merit. Their editorial, which aims to dispel doubts of Lou Gehrig's ALS diagnosis, is now available online in the peer-reviewed journal Muscle & Nerve.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurological disease that attacks nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and spinal cord which control voluntary muscles. As the upper and lower motor neurons degenerate, the muscles they control gradually weaken and waste away, leading to paralysis. Other symptoms of ALS include difficulty breathing, issues with swallowing (gagging, choking), and speech problems. According to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke roughly 20,000 to 30,000 Americans have ALS, and 5,000 patients are diagnosed annually with the disease.

In the editorial, the authors cite two media reports"Brain Trauma Can Mimic Lou Gehrig's Disease" in the New York Times and "Maybe Lou Gehrig Didn't Die of Lou Gehrig's Disease" in Time magazineas lacking in scientific validation. These reports have led to numerous inquiries from ALS patients who are seeking answers from their physicians.

"Media coverage generated by the McKee et al. study has caused much concern for our ALS patients who now believe they may be misdiagnosed," said Dr. Stanley H. Appel, Chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, and one of the foremost experts on Lou Gehrig's disease. "We want to make it clear to physicians and their ALS patients that reports of Lou Gehrig succumbing to anything but the disease which bears his name are inaccurate."

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Contact: Dawn Peters
healthnews@wiley.com
781-388-8408
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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