Parkinson's disease, according to Parkinson's Foundation, is a "neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominantly dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra." Normally, people who suffer from this disease experience mild to severe tremors, slowness of movement, rigid limbs, and walking and balancing problems.
In the study done over the course of 12 years, 326,000 U.S. veterans, aged between 31 and 65, were put under observation. Half of the participants suffered from mild to severe head injury while the other half did not. (Related: Beat Parkinson's disease naturally.)
Results showed that 56 percent of those who experienced head trauma in the past were more at risk of having Parkinson's. Moreover, those who had severe head injuries have an even higher risk of developing the disease at 83 percent.
According to Dr. Raquel Gardner, U.S. lead researcher from the University of California, San Francisco, although the study focused on U.S. veterans, the findings are very much applicable to athletes and the general public. She also emphasized the need to give importance to the repercussions that may be caused by any head injury.
"This study highlights the importance of concussion prevention, long-term follow-up of those with concussion, and the need for future studies to investigate if there are other risk factors for Parkinson's disease that can be modified after someone has a concussion," she said.
While it is not yet determined exactly how a traumatic brain injury triggers Parkinson's disease, the study suggests it has something to do with the "alpha-synuclein" protein released by injured brain cells. This protein is commonly known to be associated with the disease.
Gardner also stated that the injury might have caused changes in the brain; however, further studies are needed to confirm their theories.
Parkinson's disease is very common in America. In fact, it is among the top degenerative diseases of all time alongside Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.
As of this writing, there is still no cure for Parkinson's. However, you can determine whether you're at risk for developing the disease with these early signs and symptoms:
Make sure you keep your brain healthy and safe from diseases by learning more about it at Brain.news.