More Details on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
In the United States, approximately 20,000 people have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and an estimated 5,000 are diagnosed each year.
In 90 to 95 percent of all cases, the disease occurs randomly with no clearly associated risk factors, and about 5 to 10 percent of all ALS cases are inherited (see Familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.).
Familial ALS usually results from a pattern of inheritance that requires only one parent to carry the gene responsible for the disease (see ALS and Who It Affects).
Sunday, May 2, 1939, will be forever remembered in the annals of baseball as the day New York Yankees' first baseman Lou Gehrig voluntarily benched himself, ending a streak of 2,130 consecutive games.
For months, the once-great player's game had been in decline. His reflexes were off. He stumbled, fumbled, and struggled to hit or catch the ball. No one understood why.
A few days after Gehrig benched himself, doctors diagnosed his illness as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This is a progressive disease of the central nervous system that remains incurable to this day.
Two years later, on June 2, 1941, Gehrig died at the age of 37. The disease that took his life became known to Americans as Lou Gehrig's disease.