Veteran’s changes in his body while performing simple tasks leads to ALS diagnosis

SAN ANTONIO – Everyday simple tasks like running became harder to accomplish for retired Army veteran Norman Jones.

Jones was a chaplain in the Army for 24 years. Six months after he noticed changes in his body, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, formerly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease at the VA South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

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“I was jogging and noticed my left foot was sliding along or it was not picking up,” he said. That was the first thing he noticed.

Neurologist Dr. Quinshan Teng is part of a team of specialists that see Norman and dozens of other veterans suffering with ALS.

“In a very simple way, ALS is a disease of muscle weakness,” he said. But that’s as simple as it gets, because he says the disease is very complicated.

“We don’t have a marker, or we don’t have a test where we can confirm the diagnosis. So a biomarker study is another area we are doing here, we are doing in the ALS community,” Teng said.

Jones and his wife have been married for 44 years and they say they try to enjoy the days and do the things they enjoy together.

“(Try and) keep hope alive and one day at a time,” Jones said.

Courtesy Norman Jones Retired US Army Veteran (Copyright 2024 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)
Courtesy Norman Jones Retired US Army Veteran (Copyright 2024 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

Common early symptoms start around a person’s late 50′s and early 60′s, and it impacts men more than women. Veterans are two to three times more likely to get the disease.

Gradual symptoms include weakness of the muscles associated with walking, trouble grasping things, slurred speech and having a hard time swallowing.

The VA South Texas Health Care System ALS Clinic was recognized as a Certified Treatment Center of Excellence by the National ALS Association. They try to make it easy for patients to be able to see their all of their roughly 10 specialists in a single visit.

Courtesy VA South Texas Veterans Health Care System (Copyright 2024 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

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