Lou Gehrig May Not Have Had Lou Gehrig's Disease Study: ALS is sometimes misdiagnosed By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Aug 17, 2010 11:50 AM CDT 12 comments Comments circa 1935: American baseball player Lou Gehrig (1903 - 1941), swinging his baseball bat at a game. (Getty Images) (Newser) – A new study has found that some patients diagnosed with ALS actually suffered from a different fatal disease that affects the central nervous system—and implies that Lou Gehrig himself may not have had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The study's review of the spinal cords of three deceased athletes found that they did not actually have ALS, and that the ALS-like disease they succumbed to was caused by concussions and brain trauma. Though Gehrig's body was cremated and can't be autopsied, the Yankee had a long history of suffering concussion during ball games, and may have sustained others while playing football in college. The findings come at a time when athletes and military veterans are being diagnosed with higher than normal rates of ALS, the New York Times reports, and could change the way these diseases are studied and treated.