Is There a Connection Between Brain Injuries and Parkinson’s Disease?

Are brain injuries and Parkinson's linked?If you regularly ride a bicycle without a helmet, play contact sports or go horseback riding, we suggest you continue reading. A new study published in JAMA Neurology has found brain injuries resulting in a loss of consciousness might increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. If brain injuries and Parkinson’s disease share a connection, who is most at risk?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. According to Mayo Clinic, the disease can start with hand tremors. As the disease progresses, it can cause slowed movement, stiffness, speech problems and loss of automatic movement (such as blinking).

The study used 7,000 adults with an average age of 80 years old. Among the 7,000 participants, 865 had suffered brain injuries that resulted in a loss of consciousness (for a period of more than one hour). Participants who reported brain injuries with a loss of consciousness had an almost fourfold higher chance of developing Parkinson’s disease!

Several media outlets, including Time Magazine, have Muhammad Ali as a possible example for linking Parkinson’s disease and brain injuries. Boxers are far more likely to suffer brain injuries that result in a loss of consciousness. Former professional boxers Floyd Patterson and Freddie Roach also suffered from Parkinson’s disease later in life. However, these examples do not necessarily prove a connection between Parkinson’s and brain injuries sustained while boxing.

Are You the Athletic Type? Be Cautious of Brain Injuries

One important aspect of this study to remember is that it does not prove brain injuries increase the risk of Parkinson’s, just that a relationship has been found.

Additional studies could prove severe brain injuries can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, so it cannot hurt to take certain precautions.

While riding a bicycle or motorcycle, always use a helmet. Helmets may not prevent concussions, but might reduce the severity of brain injuries. If you are playing contact sports, be aware of the risks. Football, soccer, horseback riding and water polo can cause brain injuries.

The Louisiana personal injury attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat wish everyone a happy and safe summer.


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