By Nurse Diane
From 1923 until 1939 the first baseman for the New York Yankees was a man named Lou Gehrig. He played for 17 seasons setting several major league records. He still holds the record for grand slam hits, which was recently tied in 2012 by Alex Rodriguez. During spring training in 1939, while practicing in the field, Lou collapsed. He was taken to the hospital, and after many tests he was diagnosed with ALS.
ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed, according to alsa.org.
ALS was first described in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn't until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease when he abruptly retired from baseball after being diagnosed with ALS. Most commonly, the disease strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time.
This month is ALS Awareness Month, alsa.org offers several ways in which you can help with the fight against ALS, and make others aware. Click on this site for more information: http://web.alsa.org/site/PageNavigator/AAM_calendar.html