Lou Gehrig May Not Have Had Lou Gehrig's Disease

Lou Gehrig, the legendary Yankee, is best remembered for two things: being the decades-long record holder for playing in the most consecutive major league baseball games, and for dying at age 37 of a disease that now bears his name.

But a recent study suggests Gehrig may not have had ALS--commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease--at all. Instead, his intense devotion to sports could have given him a condition that resembles ALS:

A peer-reviewed paper to be published Wednesday in a leading journal of neuropathology, however, suggests that the demise of athletes like Gehrig and soldiers given a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, might have been catalyzed by injuries only now becoming understood: concussions and other brain trauma.

...

The finding's relevance to Gehrig is less clear. But the Yankees legend had a well-documented history of significant concussions on the baseball field, and perhaps others sustained as a battering-ram football halfback in high school and at Columbia University. Given that, it's possible that Gehrig's renowned commitment to playing through injuries like concussions, which resulted in his legendary streak of playing in 2,130 consecutive games over 14 years, could have led to his condition.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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