Former Tennessee Titans football player Tim Shaw revealed this week in a video posted to the Titans website that he has the fatal neurodegenerative disease ALS for which thousands of people are taking the so-called Ice Bucket Challenge. During the video, the former linebacker and team captain dumped a Gatorade bucket full of ice water over his own head and challenged the Titans organization, the Penn State football team, coach James Franklin, and his community in Clarenceville, Mich., to do the same.
“I’m here today to stand up and fight with all of you against the disease,” said the 30-year-old former NFL player.
ALS is short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease affects nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. Patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
The disease is rare, affecting an estimated two in every 100,000 Americans. However, some studies suggest that football players are at greater risk, likely because of repeated blows to the head. NFL players were found to be as much as four times more likely to develop and die from the disease than those who do not play football.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral after Beverly, Mass., resident Pete Frates and family put the challenge up on social media sites Facebook and Twitter. Pete, 29, was diagnosed with the disease in 2012, and has worked with the ALS Association’s Massachusetts Chapter.
The Ice Bucket Challenge involves people getting doused with a bucket of ice water on video, then posting it to a social media site and challenging others to do the same within 24 hours. Those who refuse are asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choosing.
There is no cure or treatment that stops or reverses ALS, however there is one FDA approved medication, riluzole, that can slow the progression of the disease, and several other drugs are currently in clinical trials.
Source: ABC News