For 71 years, Lou Gehrig has been the face of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, now most commonly known as "Lou Gehrig’s disease."
After getting the diagnosis of a disease that would quickly rob him of his muscle strength and control, Gehrig retired from baseball. At a ceremony honoring him at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, his voice full of emotion, he said, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. That I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you." He died just two years later of the disease that now bears his name.
Now new research suggests that there is a possibility Lou Gehrig may not have had "Lou Gehrig’s disease," but perhaps something closely related.
A study published yesterday has found that there is a strong connection between repetitive head injuries – which Gehrig suffered – and motor-neuron degeneration that closely resembles ALS.
We speak with Alan Schwarz, the staff reporter who broke this story for The New York Times. Also with us is Dr. Robert Stern, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University, and one of the investigators in the study.