Concussion tied to Parkinson’s
Just one mild concussion could increase the risk for Parkinson’s disease by 56 percent, a new study suggests. Researchers examined the health records of 325,870 veterans, ages 31 to 65. None had Parkinson’s at the start of the study; after 12 years, only 1,462 had been diagnosed with the incurable neurological disorder. But of those, 65 percent had previously suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). After accounting for age and other factors, the researchers concluded that veterans who’d had a TBI had a 71 percent increased risk of Parkinson’s, and that those who suffered moderate to severe injuries had an 83 percent higher risk. Those with a history of brain trauma were also diagnosed with Parkinson’s on average two years earlier than those who never had a head injury. “This is the highest level of evidence so far to establish that this association is a real one and something to be taken seriously,” researcher Raquel Gardner tells ABCNews.com. The researchers speculate that injured brain cells may trigger the buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein, a hallmark of Parkinson’s.