The ALS Association

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Carrie Munk
The ALS Association
(571) 319-3047



One Traumatic Brain Injury Doesn’t Hasten ALS in Rodent Model

Washington, D.C., (July 9, 2015) — Researchers have shown that a one-time traumatic brain injury does not speed the development of disease in a model of ALS. The study sheds new light on the role of head trauma in the risk for ALS.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. There is no cure and no life-prolonging treatments for the disease. 

The large majority of cases of ALS are not linked to any known gene. Environmental factors such as head trauma have been suggested to increase ALS risk, based on epidemiological studies, but few lab-based investigations have been performed to assess the risk in a more controlled manner. In the current study, first author Gretchen Thomsen, Ph.D., senior investigator Clive Svendsen, Ph.D., and colleagues, tested the effect of a single head trauma on the onset and progression of motor neuron disease in rats carrying a mutation in the SOD1 gene, a genetic cause of ALS. They found no effect from this injury on either the time of onset of motor symptoms or the rate of disease progression.

“This study provides evidence that a single head injury is unlikely to play a role in development of ALS,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Scientist for The ALS Association. “The possibility remains that multiple traumas to the central nervous system may be a risk factor for the disease, a possibility that will need to be explored through further experiments.”

The study was published in the online journal eNeuro and is available here:

About The ALS Association
The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front.  By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure.  For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at

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