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More from News
- Dwight Clark wrote Sunday that he is experiencing a loss of muscle strength
- The 60-year-old San Francisco 49ers wide receiver is unable to walk or run
- He's best known for making 'The Catch' in the 1981 NFC championship game
Former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark announced Sunday he has ALS.
The 60-year-old revealed he had recently been diagnosed with ALS - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - a disorder that causes increasing muscle weakness and eventual paralysis and is, in most cases, fatal.
'The one piece of good news is that the disease seems to be progressing more slowly than in some patients,' Clark said in a statement.
Clark tweeted a link to his statement Sunday night
Weakness in Clark's left hand in September 2015 made him think something was wrong.
Doctors initially diagnosed him with a B-12 vitamin deficiency, which can mirror ALS symptoms.
'I was mildly paying attention to it because since my playing days, I’ve constantly had pain in my neck,' Clark wrote. 'I was thinking it was related to some kind of nerve damage because it would just come and go.'
The neurodegenerative disease has progressed to the point where Clark has weakness in his right hand, lower back, legs and abdominal muscles.
He is unable to run or walk.
ALS has progressed to the point where Clark (above) has weakness in his right hand, lower back, legs and abdominal muscles. The 60 year old is unable to walk or run
The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver (above) is best known for making 'The Catch' in the 1981 National Football Conference that helped the team clinch a spot in their first Super Bowl
'While I’m still trying to wrap my head around the challenge I will face with this disease over the coming years, the only thing I know is that I’m going to fight like hell and live every day to the fullest,' Clark wrote.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report that ex-NFL players were four times more likely to die from ALS than other people.
WHAT IS AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - also known as Lou Gehrig's disease - is the most common form of motor neurone disease, which affects a person's ability to move voluntarily.
While the person continues to think and feel, they suffer muscle atrophy and are often unable to walk, eat or talk, leaving them effectively 'locked in' to their body.
It is estimated that about half of those diagnosed with motor neurone disease will die within the first 14 months of knowing they have it.
There is no known cure at present.
In 2011, former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, now 40, was diagnosed with the condition.
Other former NFL players who have been afflicted with ALS include former Raiders running back Steve Smith, 52; Ravens linebacker OJ Brigance; and Vikings safety Orlando Thomas, who died at 42 in 2014.
'I’ve been asked if playing football caused this. I don’t know for sure. But I certainly suspect it did,' wrote Clark. 'And I encourage the NFLPA and the NFL to continue working together in their efforts to make the game of football safer, especially as it relates to head trauma.'
Clark played with the 49ers for nine seasons, in which he won two Super Bowls and entered team lore for "The Catch" from Joe Montana in the 1981 National Football Conference championship game that helped the 49ers clinch a spot in their first Super Bowl.
Montana told The Mercury News he is 'saddened' by Clark's diagnosis.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, affects two in every 100,000 people.