Medicine

Single concussion may increase risk of Parkinson's disease by almost 60 percent

Single concussion may increase risk of Parkinson's disease by almost 60 percent

Objective Our aim was to assess risk of Parkinson disease (PD) following traumatic brain injury (TBI), including specifically mild TBI (mTBI), among care recipients in the Veterans Health Administration.

The size of the risk was found to be dependent on the severity of the injury.

Study first author Dr. Raquel Gardner pointed out that traumatic brain injury has been previously linked to Parkinson's, but this is the first study to demonstrate a link between the disease and concussion. Parkinson's is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system.

The researcher added that traumatic brain injuries could cause abnormal proteins to accumulate in the brain. Mild TBIs, commonly known as concussions, were also examined. A recent study suggests that concussion is a growing problem among the elderly.

Mild traumatic brain injury was defined as loss of consciousness for zero to 30 minutes, adjustment of consciousness of a moment to 24 hours or amnesia for zero to 24 hours.

In the study, a moderate to severe TBI was defined as a loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes, adjustment of consciousness of more than 24 hours or amnesia for more than 24 hours.

The researchers analyzed health information from 325,870 veterans, ages 31 to 65, using three US databases from the Veterans Health Administration. Initially, roughly 50 percent of the participants were diagnosed with mild, moderate or severe TBI, while the other half was not.

The researchers could not tell from their database analyses whether cases of Parkinson's disease related to head trauma are somehow different from other cases of the disease. Among those, 949 (or 0.58% of the total participants) had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, while 513 (0.31%) had no history of it.

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The study, which analyzed information from more than 320,000 US veterans, found that those who'd experienced a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), often called a concussion, were 56 percent more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson's than those who'd never had a concussion.

Anthony P. Kontos, research director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Sports Medicine Concussion Program, said the large number of participants was a strength of the new study.

The study showed that 1 in 212 veterans who had experienced a concussion developed Parkinson's disease.

But this is not accurate. "Many have suspected that his head injuries contributed to his Parkinsons disease, but its impossible to say for sure", said Gardner.

In fact, just 360 of 76,297 veterans in the study who'd been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury developed Parkinson's disease, and 543 of 72,592 veterans once diagnosed with moderate to severe injury developed the disease.

While the study focused on military veterans, it has implications that stretch much wider than the armed forces.

The researchers highlighted the importance of the findings for two reasons.

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


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