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The shaky hands of the late iconic boxer in his old age told a story of greatness. Muhammad Ali had battled, won and broken records in the sport of boxing. Even so, the greatest battle that Ali fought and lost is the battle with Parkinson’s disease. Reports suggest that Ali started showing signs of the disease at only 42 years starting with slow reaction time, slow blinking, and delayed movements.
Could he have contracted Parkinson’s due to “old age”? Is it a genetic disorder? Did a trauma from boxing cause damage to the brain. Possibly, an in-depth look at Parkinson’s disease can give answers to these pertinent questions.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
This is a degenerative disorder of the nervous system that affects movements. It is a complication that starts gradually then develops to what it is. Sometimes it can be a shaky hand or a slight tremor of the legs. Despite tremors being one of the major symptoms of the disease, some signs of the disorder can manifest through stiffness or slowing down of movement.
Symptoms of the disease
Early signs of Parkinson’s disease are often mild and may even go unnoticed. Additionally, you need to know that symptoms vary from one person to another. A prominent symptom of the disease is a tremor of the hands while at rest (relaxed). After some time, people experience slowed movement (Bradykinesia), and simple tasks become difficult and time-consuming. At a progressed stage, patients experience rigid muscles, impaired balance, changes in speech, and loss of automatic movements such as blinking.
While the exact causes of Parkinson’s disease have not been established, scientists believe that some factors such as genetic mutations of a person and environmental triggers could play a role. However, the underlying cause of the disease is due to breaking down of the nerve cells (neurons) in the brain.
Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured. Nonetheless, medications that can be used to control and shell down the symptoms exist. Case in point, Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with the disease at 42 but still lived until he was 74 years. Doctors can prescribe certain medications including surgical procedures.
Because the cause of the disease is yet to be found out, there are no known prevention measures. A lot of facts concerning Parkinson’s disease are still shrouded in mystery.
Living with Parkinson’s disease can be profoundly frustrating. The sick cannot properly walk, talk, or even eat. In spite of the situation, support can be made easier by support groups in the community. Psychological help is also of immense benefits.