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VA Boston Healthcare System

 

Making Major Commitments to ALS Care and Research

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A group of reasearchers standing around a conference table facing the camera

Researchers with the VA Biorepository Brain Bank

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

“So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.” - Lou Gehrig, July 4th 1939 

July 4th we celebrate America’s declaration of independence and this year Independence Day holds special meaning for America’s Veterans past and present suffering with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. It has been 75 years since Lou Gehrig, who was diagnosed with ALS during his career, made his famous farewell speech to baseball. Although there is still no cure for ALS, great advances in ALS research and treatment have been made since Gehrig’s speech and continue to be made every month.  

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has made major commitments to ALS care and research. An important component of VA’s research support is the VA Biorepository Brain Bank (VABBB), which provides nervous system tissue and health data to ALS researchers. The VABBB is seeking Veterans with ALS (or its related forms, such as primary lateral sclerosis, progressive bulbar palsy, and progressive muscular atrophy), who would like to participate in research about conditions such as ALS that affect Veterans. Veterans without ALS or other neurological diseases are also eligible to participate in the VABBB, because it is important to also study Veterans without neurological disease in order to learn more about the causes of ALS. 

Veterans can begin helping now by enrolling today, even though the tissue donation may occur many years from now. Once enrolled, Veterans (or their caregivers if it is difficult for the Veteran to speak or write) complete telephone and/or mail surveys about their health every six months or so. These surveys will allow researchers to learn as much as possible about the health of an enrolled Veteran and how it may change over the course of time, which adds value to the tissue donation made upon the Veteran’s passing. All Veterans with ALS, ALS-related conditions, and even those without neurological disease, are eligible to participate in the VABBB. You do not have to receive care at a VA healthcare facility to be eligible. Your decision to donate can be changed at any time. 

Call our toll-free office number (1-866-460-1158) to speak to someone about enrolling in the VABBB or to learn more, visit us online at our website .