Link Between Head Injury and Parkinson's Gets Stronger

In a new study published in JAMA Neurology, researchers find stronger reason to be concerned about the long term effects of head injuries, particularly when it comes to Parkinson’s disease, which recently contributed to the death of Muhammad Ali.

The scientists, led by Dr. Paul Crane from the University of Washington, studied 7,130 older people from three different populations in the U.S. who reported on their history of head injuries and underwent regular cognitive testing. The researchers focused on people who had head injuries that resulted in a loss of consciousness, and analyzed how these events affected the development of brain disorders such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.

People who reported head injuries had a 3.5-fold higher chance of developing Parkinson’s than those who did not, and people who were unconscious for a longer time showed a doubling of Parkinson’s progression compared with those who did not have any head trauma. With the recent death of boxing great Ali, who suffered from Parkinson’s, the findings highlight the possible long term effects of brain injury.

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