Dr. Campbell: Raleigh sports figure contracts ALS

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Chris Combs, a former standout baseball player at N.C. State and associate director of the Wolfpack Club, announced in May he had been diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

This past weekend, Combs and his Foundation called “Team Chris Combs” held a fundraiser where all proceeds were donated to the Duke ALS Center in order to help find a cure through research.

The gala raised more than $ 1 million for ALS research.

1. What is ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease?

ALS is a progressive neurologic disease that affects cells in the brain and spinal cord.

ALS has no cure.

In ALS, the motor neurons—or nerves that help control movement are damaged and ultimately no longer function. This results in the inability to move arms, legs and other muscle groups.

Ultimately, ALS will affect the muscles in the chest that allow us to breathe.

With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe.

The motor nerves that are affected when you have ALS are the motor neurons that provide voluntary movements and muscle control. Examples of voluntary movements are making the effort to reach for a smart phone or step off a curb. These actions are controlled by the muscles in the arms and legs.

2. How was Chris Combs diagnosed?

Combs first noticed something was wrong with his hands in October of last year when he couldn’t button the top button of his dress shirt.

In January, he noted other troubles with his hands while duck hunting.

Ultimately he began to have muscle twitches at night.

He then sought after several different medical opinions and was initially diagnosed with and treated for a different neurologic disease without any changes in his symptoms.

Ultimately, his ALS diagnosis was confirmed at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

3. What is the prognosis for Chris and others like him?

At this point there is no cure.

The average life span after diagnosis is 2 to 5 years.

There are no proven treatments.

Combs will be in a research protocol for his treatment that will hopefully slow the progression of his disease.

4. What can we do to help?

Combs and others like him are hoping for a cure.

A cure will only be realized through medical breakthroughs that are funded by research.

If you would like to learn more about how to get involved, click here.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter. If there’s a topic you’d like to see Dr. Campbell cover, let us know by sending an email to newstips@wncn.com.

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