Researchers from the Mayo Clinic and UCLA have discovered that people who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) are four times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than people who have never had a head injury.
According to an article on Digital Journal, the researchers reviewed the past medical records of about 200 patients, looking to see if those who had experienced head trauma at some time in their lives later developed Parkinson’s disease. Why might this be true? The answer comes from another research study:
The UCLA team found that brain trauma causes an immediate 15% loss in brain cells called nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. The loss of these cells continued so that after about 6 months, up to 30% of those neurons were lost. It is the loss of these dopaminergic neurons that make a person more susceptible to Parkinson’s disease.
Although there is still no cure for Parkinson’s disease, this research may provide another piece of the puzzle that could eventually lead to prevention or more effective treatments. But in the meantime, the sad news is that people who suffer TBI need to be watchful for signs of Parkinson’s disease as they grow older.