The official name of the illness is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but in the U.S. it is better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The great New York Yankees first baseman was diagnosed with ALS in 1939 and died two years later from the progressive neuromuscular disorder, which attacks nerve cells that lead from the brain and the spinal cord to muscles throughout the body. When these motor neurons die, the brain can no longer control muscle movements; in the later stages of the disease, patients become totally paralyzed.