How Did Mohammad Ali Get Parkinson’s Disease?




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How did Mohammad Ali Get Parkinson’s Disease? Let’s delve deep into details. Mohammad Ali was a popular boxer and weightlifter with an amazing record of continuous victories in his fights. He became one of the most recognized sportsmen for not only his professional achievements but also his generous social work and philanthropy. 

Ali Got it Parkinson Disease at the age of 42 and there are numerous theories behind it. 

Mohammad Ali Get Parkinson's Disease

Nicknamed “The Greatest,” he fought his battle with Parkinson’s with strength and became an active member of the Parkinson’s community.

After a successful career with multiple victories against fighters like Frazier and George Foreman, the boxer’s wins started to turn into losses. At the age of 38, he went through his worst fight, where he took his greatest beatings while fighting against Larry Holmes in 1980. 

Here is a related article that might interest you on What Causes Parkinson’s Disease Tremors?

The incident caught everyone’s attention, and people began suspecting his health and agility. After multiple pleas from families and coaches, he fought his last fight against Trevor Berbick and finally retired in 1981. 

How did Mohammad Ali Get Parkinson’s Disease? The Early Signs 

Three years after his retirement, Mohammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 42. Even before the diagnosis, the media and many acquaintances had observed serious changes in his speech and behavior. 

By the age of 38, when he was at the peak of his career, his performance started to take a downturn. The boxer seemed to lose his superior fighting abilities, and everyone, including his coach and trainers, began to question his heath. 

Despite his deteriorating health, he did not slow down and continued occasional matches and media presence. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

While the official diagnosis was made in 1984, many suspect that the disease developed many years ago. The media recorded serious changes in his speech and sudden trembling of his hands many years before. 

Being a fighter, his career became the main suspect behind his Parkinson’s. Many doctors and researchers have since related his condition to the serious brain injuries he sustained over the long period of his career. 

However, research is still unclear about the direct cause of him developing the disease. 

Before we can dig deeper into what caused his Parkinson’s, it is important to understand the disease first.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that can impair one’s cognitive and physical abilities with varying severity. Over time, the disease can lead to physical and mental disabilities making the affected person depend on external support. 

What is Parkinson's Disease

The disease is generally classified as idiopathic – a disease with no known direct cause. 

Parkinson’s is one of the most complicated, multi-faceted diseases, making it hard to diagnose. It doesn’t cause any unique biological or chemical changes within the body, making it almost impossible to detect with modern tests, including X-rays, MRI scans, and Blood tests. 

Its common symptoms are largely present in other diseases as well, including arthritis, dementia, depression, and anemia. These factors make the disease harder to differentiate from other diseases, leading to delayed treatment. 

One reason for Mohammad Ali’s sudden change in physical and speech abilities may be linked to his delayed diagnosis. Parkinson’s has very mild symptoms in the early stages, which can make one mistake it as mere laziness, exhaustion, and weakness in the body. 

The early signs include changes in posture, duller facial expressions, and trouble walking. This is why many affected individuals don’t rush to seek a diagnosis or treatment. 

Was Brain Injury to Blame?

The case of Mohammad Ali’s Parkinson’s has led to many debates and arguments within the media regarding the influence of his career on the development of Parkinson’s. 

In reality, however, the science behind the condition is much more complicated.

As already discussed, Parkinson’s is a disease with no known causes. Most research findings point towards the possibility of genetic and environmental factors playing a role. 

However, a direct relationship cannot be established. Its neurological nature is the main factor to blame. Most neurological and psychological conditions are still hard to trace back to a direct cause despite decades of research. 

Being one, Parkinson’s is also believed to be caused by a diverse range of factors that interact together. 

The conclusion on Brain injury and trauma being an influential factor are still under debate. Most studies show conflicting results, with only a few finding a positive relationship between brain injuries and the possibility of developing Parkinson’s Disease. 

Mohammad Ali’s battle with Parkinson’s caught the attention of multiple researchers and scientists. This was largely due to the abundance of data available on his health and developing symptoms that could be used to uncover new findings. 

The endless records of Mohammad Ali’s deteriorating speech, shaking, and strength made a huge contribution to research dedicated to the disease. However, despite the innumerable research on his particular case, a direct cause has still not been found. 

Development from Recent Research

One recent study found that head trauma and multiple concussions over the years can make one more vulnerable to developing the disease. However, other research findings show that even when the possibility exists, it is in the form of a very small percentage. 

Development from Recent Research

The CEO of Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research also contributed to the debate by clearing out the main misconception. He says that every case varies from the other, and conclusively, pointing a finger toward one or two causes is impossible. 

However, he also believes that head injury is a possible cause. Other data shows that it can only increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease but not cause it directly. 

Another important factor is the frequency of different brain injuries. A study on lab animals found that two or more trauma-inducing brain injuries within a short period can lead to degenerative brain symptoms. 

Another post that will interest you is about the 13 Best Mobility Aids for Parkinson’s Patients – The Complete Guide.

The study also found that symptoms are likely to show in later years of life rather than immediately after the injury. 

A mayo Clinic researcher also agreed that individuals who sustain a head injury are more at risk of being diagnosed with the disease. He further stated that the individual predisposition still remains the initial factor, and head injury can only increase the risk. 

This could be rephrased to state that a mere head injury or even multiple injuries cannot cause Parkinson’s if the person’s unique profile was not already at risk. 

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