November 28, 1980

Terminology for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Author Affiliations

Hamilton, NY

JAMA. 1980;244(21):2415-2416. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310210017013

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To the Editor.—  This is an appeal to fellow physicians who love baseball and who therefore recognize Lou Gehrig as a great player and a fine gentleman. My appeal is to remove the epithet "Lou Gehrig's disease" from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).In my medical school years, ALS was referred to as "the disease Lou Gehrig had." Today his name has actually replaced the original name of his horrible affliction. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis now is Lou Gehrig's disease. I think this is a regrettable and shameful happening. Where else in contemporary medicine has the name of a celebrity (especially one who is so universally admired) actually replaced the medically accepted name?Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis should not be honored by being formally equated with Lou Gehrig by our professional colleagues. Certainly Lou Gehrig's name should not be used in this way by those in our profession who understand the importance of