A Traumatic Brain Injury Can Increase Your Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when an external force such as a blow injures the brain. This affects the functioning of your brain. TBI can be mild to severe, and its resulting effects may be various including confusion and/or loss of consciousness, difficulty thinking, disorientation, irritability, headache, memory problems, coordination problems, frustration, mood swings and attention deficits.

A new neurological study has found that even a mild concussion (mild Traumatic Brain Injury or mTBI) increases one’s risk for Parkinson’s disease. In this study, scientists took the database of 162,935 TBI patients comprising of both men and women from Veterans Health Administration. They matched them with another 162,935 non-TBI patients with similar behavioral and health characteristics.

Half of the TBI cases were mild. They had experienced a blow to the head with succeeding symptoms but with no or little unconsciousness. The other half experienced moderate to severe symptoms including long-term symptoms or extended unconsciousness.

After controlling for income, race, age and several psychiatric and medical diseases, they found that in comparison with the non-TBI patients, the mild TBI patients had a 56 percent higher risk for Parkinson’s disease, and the moderate to severe TBI patients had an 83 percent higher risk.

The study’s lead author Dr. Raquel C. Gardner, who works as an assistant professor of neurology at San Francisco’s University of California, stated that though the underlying mechanism is not known due to lack of brain autopsies, it was found that the abnormal protein accumulation in Parkinson’s is associated with TBI. Whatever, may be the cause, this research provides the most conclusive proof that there is a link between TBI and Parkinson’s disease.

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