“battling parkinson’s disease” (or, head trauma and risk of PD-part2)

In 1984, Muhammad Ali was a 42 years old former boxing champion who recently had to figure out how to live with his tremors, slurred speech and slow movements. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Ali 1980 (only 1yr prior to appearance of PD signs, 4 yrs before diagnosis)

Ali fought late into his life; and especially his last two fights, Holmes (above) and Berbick, left him battered and bruised… to say the least.

There are many people that believe Ali would have developed PD even if he lived a life as a quiet librarian, since the evidence linking boxing-related head trauma to development of PD is still controversial.

However, there’s another group that believe in a definitive cause-and-effect relationship.

In 2006, study shows an association between prior head injury with loss of consciousness and PD (odds ratio= 3.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.3–11; p = 0.014) in twins, especially monozygotic (Goldman et al. Annals Neurology, 2006). Risk was increased with subsequent head injuries and/or hospitalization.

Puerto Rico's Arroyo twin boxers (2008)

Another case-controlled study examined environmental risk of PD. This study found that head injury (OR=6.23) that occurred on average 37yrs prior to diagnosis was the strongest risk-factor for PD… Though you have to keep-in-mind people have a hard time remembering these events or may attach greater significance to them in hindsight, i.e.”recall bias”.

Ali has turned his battle with PD into a positive by:

– establishing the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Centre (at the Barow Neurological Institute)

– hosting the annual charity event (going on 17 years! wow) Celebrity Fight Night (www.celebrityfightnight.org).

Ali @ Celebrity Fight Night 2009


so, to all those who are bravely battling this disease, i admire you! keep your mind active to have a fighting chance… and never surrender!

Or, as Dr. Lieberman puts it: “fight like a tiger, think like a fox”. much love.

2 thoughts on ““battling parkinson’s disease” (or, head trauma and risk of PD-part2)

  1. Pingback: my favourite things – parkinson’s novels | kaitlyn roland

  2. Pingback: from research to real life – brain injury and Parkinson’s | kaitlyn roland

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