11 December 2012
Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands since Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with the disease in 1939. Support groups have been established to help those who have been affected by Amyotrophic lateral scleriosis. Medicine has been discovered to help with the pain and prolong the lives of those suffering with the disease. Amyotrophic lateral scleriosis, famously known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, takes thousands of lives every year with no warning and no cure. Amyotrophic lateral scleriosis often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 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. Examples of voluntary movements are making the effort to reach for the phone or step off a curb; these actions are controlled by the muscles in the arms and legs. Breathing may seem to be involuntary but remember, while no one can stop their heart from beating, or their stomach from digesting food they can hold their breath – which means that ALS may eventually have an impact on their breathing. As motor neurons degenerate, they can no longer send impulses to the muscle fibers that normally result in muscle movement. When a muscle has no nourishment or contact, it "atrophies" in other words wastes away. In 1939 American Baseball first baseman who played seventeen seasons in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees, Henry Louis Gehrig was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral scleriosis. According to the Biography Channel, the illness forced Gehrig to retire from baseball immediately, and he passed away two years later, at the age of 37. In 1938 Gehrig, was beginning to have trouble with things as simple as tying his shoelaces, he feared that he might be facing something more than just the downslide of a long baseball career. In 1939, after getting off to a horrid start to the baseball season, Gehrig checked himself into the Mayo Clinic, after a series of tests the doctors informed him that he was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Later that year, May 2, 1939, Gehrig's ironman streak came to an end when he voluntarily took himself out of the lineup. Not long after, Gehrig retired from baseball. Michael Miller who wrote the article “Did Lou Gehrig have Lou Gehrig’s disease?” said that although the doctors at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed him with what is known today as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” people familiar with his sports history surmise now that his motor neuron disease may have been related to his head injuries. Michael Miller researched and wrote a document stating that Gehrig may not have had this disease, and it was just from being knocked unconscious so many times that caused his motor neurons to strip away. It is not certain that Gehrig passed away from ALS or from his hard hitting baseball career, but it has been said that there is no evidence to prove that he didn’t develop ALS. Something everyone should know is the early symptoms of ALS. According to the ALS Association, they will often include increasing muscle weakness making it hard to lift objects around the house, especially involving the arms and legs; speech and swallowing or breathing. The arms and legs will begin to look “thinner” as muscle tissue atrophies. More symptoms include, twitching and cramping of the muscles, especially the muscles in the hands and feet; impairment of the use of their arms and legs; "thick speech" which is also known as slurred speech and difficulty in projecting the voice, in more advanced stages however, shortness of breath, difficulty...
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