Parkinson’s back in the news with the death of boxing great, Muhammad Ali.
At the age of 42 Former heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with having Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time. But for many, the lingering question is whether repeated punches to the head as a boxer played a role in the development of this disease?
“[It’s] likely his repeated head injuries contributed to his Parkinson’s disease,” according to medical professionals in news reports. They also point out that, “given how young Ali was when he was diagnosed with the disorder — the boxer was 42 — there’s a ‘strong chance’ that genetics played a significant role as well.” The average age of Parkinson’s onset is 60 years old, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
In PD patients the brain cells which produce dopamine begin to die off. Dopamine is the chemical found in the brain that controls muscle movements. As you know many PD sufferers have varying degrees of muscle stiffness, slowness of muscle movements and tremors.
It has been noted that certain genes appear to increase the risk of developing the disease at a younger age. These genes are responsible for the decline of dopamine production.
However, head trauma is still listed as a strong cause. In a 2013 study, 57 % of those who suffered a concussion were more likely to develop PD. Specifically damage to the areas in the brain that hold the dopamine producing cells create the strongest likelihood of developing PD. Researchers contend that genetics may play a role in younger patients because the average age of onset for PD is 60 years old.
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