Friday, August 19, 2016

Can Parkinsonian Symptoms Be Brought On by Traumatic Brain Injury?

TBI linked to Parkinson’s and Parkinson-related brain defects

Researchers at the Group Health Research Institute relates research to Muhammad Ali—and how we can prevent late-life injuries and falls for our families and ourselves.-JR

by Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, executive director of Group Health Research Institute and vice president for research at Group Health
Traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion, is a big problem in older adulthood, the stage of life when accidents—especially falls—happen most often. Yet we hear a lot about TBI from sports, particularly football head injuries in younger people.
Muhammad Ali, who recently died, had a symptom complex called Parkinsonism. It’s very likely that multiple blows to the head from boxing set the stage for this condition. A new study that I helped to lead confirms concern over effects of TBI that threaten the structure and function of brain cells.

Here’s what we found—and didn’t find

With colleagues from the University of Washington (UW), Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Rush University Medical Center, and the University of Utah, Paul Crane, MD, MPH, and I recently published “Association between Traumatic Brain Injury and Late Life Neurodegenerative Conditions and Neuropathological Findings" iJAMA Neurology. Dr. Crane is a professor of general internal medicine at the UW School of Medicine, an adjunct professor of health services at the UW School of Public Health, and an affiliate investigator at Group Health Research Institute (GHRI).

How to prevent falls

On a practical level, though, this research should remind us of just how important it is to prevent falls and other accidents. Here’s how you can prevent falls:
  • Get regular exercise for general conditioning, strength, and balance training. 
  • Avoid drugs that impair balance and judgment, such as narcotics, anticholinergics, and tranquilizers, and avoid over-treating high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Eliminate hazards in your environment—like inadequate lighting, rugs and cords that can cause tripping.
  • Wear shoes or slippers with good soles that are not too thick. The ACT study has shown that older people are much more likely to fall in the home if they walk barefoot or in stocking feet.  
  • At some point, consider using a cane or walker to avoid falls.

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