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Study: Traumatic brain injuries may increase risk of Parkinson's

People who have suffered traumatic brain injuries -- even mild ones -- may be at greater risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a recent study in the journal Neurology.

In order to test for an association between the disease and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), researchers delved into a Veterans Health Administration database. They identified 162,935 men and women who had been diagnosed with a TBI. Some experienced a mild injury, defined as a blow to the head after which the patient experienced some symptoms but spent little or no time unconscious. Other patients fell into the moderate-to-severe range, which involved long-term symptoms or extended unconsciousness.

The researchers then selected the same number of people who had not experienced a TBI but who shared similar health and behavioral characteristics as the TBI patients.

After controlling for many medical conditions and psychiatric diseases along with age, race and income, the researchers found that:

  • The patients with mild TBIs were at a 56-percent increased risk of Parkinson's disease, compared with their peers who had not suffered TBIs.
  • Those with moderate to severe TBIs were at an 83-percent greater risk of Parkinson's than their non-TBI peers.

The study's lead author told the New York Times that the researchers don't know the underlying biology yet. However, Parkinson's seems to be caused by the abnormal accumulation of proteins in the brain, and TBI is associated with deposits of these abnormal proteins.

"This study provides the most definitive evidence that there is this association," she said.

Even a mild traumatic brain injury may be the precursor to other health issues. This just adds to the many concerns facing people who have suffered TBIs due to another party's negligence or wrongdoing. When seeking compensation from a party who has harmed you, it is crucial to work with an attorney who understands all the potential impacts of such an injury so that they may be taken into account and compensated.

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