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Muhammad Ali and also actor Michael J. Fox joke around before the start of a Senate hearing on Parkinson"s an illness in 2002.Kenneth Lambert/AP
Muhammad Ali to be still boxing professionally once observers very first noticed indications of neurological decline, and also many have actually been fast to attach his profession to his diagnosis, year later, the Parkinson’s disease.

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In the years that followed, and with Ali’s death Friday at the age of 74, however, a stubborn truth remains: Neurologists can not definitively say even if it is Ali’s symptoms to be a an outcome of his boxing career. But they said head trauma does increase the risk.

“It’s very hard to suggest in virtually any individual case to what’s bring about the Parkinson’s,” said Todd Sherer, the chief executive of the Michael J. Fox foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “But there’s quite convincing data that head injury deserve to increase your hazard for emerging the disease.”

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Sherer, that holds a doctor in neuroscience, claimed a 2006 study released in Annals of Neurology helped establish that risk. In the study, a team led by Dr. Samuel Goldman, that the Parkinson’s Institute and also Clinical Center in Sunnyvale, Calif., adhered to the situations of 93 bag of twins in which only one of each had actually Parkinson’s.


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Those who had actually sustained at least one head injury were more likely 보다 their twin to have actually a later on diagnosis the Parkinson’s, and also the likelihood increased in those with more than one head injury.

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Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous device disorder in which crucial nerve cell in the brain malfunction and die, curbing the manufacturing of dopamine, the chemistry that sends messages come the component of the mind that controls motor skills. Symptoms incorporate tremors, slowed movement, and also speech changes, amongst others.

There is no cure, yet treatment options can help manage symptoms.

Goldman claimed Saturday the he was not acquainted with the details that Ali’s case, “but native what I recognize there’s a good likelihood the his Parkinson’s is a repercussion of repeated head trauma.”

Based on much more recent research studies of laboratory animals, Goldman stated that that believes those who endure two episodes of mind trauma in ~ a short period of time are more likely to endure degenerative brain symptoms later on in life.

“It can really collection off a degenerative cascade,” the said.

Dr. Rodolfo Savica, a physician and researcher with the mayo Clinic, agreed that those who experience head trauma are more likely to confront a diagnosis that Parkinson’s later in life. Genetic components, he and also others believe, are additionally at play. “There is absolutely an individual predisposition to develop this an illness that we think have the right to be potentially enhanced by the head trauma itself,” that said.

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Dr. John Trojanowski, a neurologist in ~ the college of Pennsylvania, stated he met Ali at a fundraising occasion in las Vegas several years ago, through which point the boxer to be unable to speak. Based on what Trojanowski understood of Ali’s symptoms, and Trojanowski’s own research, he stated it’s “highly likely that his early-onset Parkinson’s was a result of his boxing.”


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“We know that at part threshold, as soon as crossed, exposure come traumatic mind injury and repetitive mind injury sets the phase for early on onset creates of neurodegeneration,” that said.

“We’re much from fixing the riddle” that Parkinson’s an accurate causes, that added. “But what anyone agrees top top is the it ain’t an excellent to box and also have many concussions.”