Just one concussion may up Parkinson's risk

Credit CC0 Public Domain

When the researchers compared those who had brain injuries to those who didn't, and controlled the data for other risk factors - such as age, sex, race, education and other health conditions - the overall risk of Parkinson's disease was 71 percent higher for people who had any type of TBI.

Study volunteers were aged 31 to 65, and were followed for up to 12 years.

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.

During the follow-up time, 1,462 participants were diagnosed with Parkinson's.

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.

The overall risk of developing Parkinson's in this group was slightly more than a half of 1 percent for those with a traumatic brain injury.

'Our research looked at a very large population of US veterans who had experienced either mild, moderate or severe traumatic brain injury in an effort to find an answer to whether a mild traumatic brain injury can put someone at risk'. A mild TBI was defined as a loss of consciousness for zero to 30 minutes, adjustment of consciousness of a moment to 24 hours or amnesia for zero to 24 hours. Half of these individuals had been diagnosed with a concussion or had experienced a moderate-to-severe traumatic head injury.

Symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury were defined as loss of consciousness for zero to 30 minutes, consciousness adjustment for up to 24 hours, or up to 24 hours of memory loss.

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Gardner said it's possible that traumatic brain injuries could cause abnormal proteins to accumulate in the brain.

A total of 360 out of 76,297 with mild traumatic brain injury (0.47 percent) developed the disease and 543 out of 72,592 with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (0.75 percent) developed the disease.

"Upwards of 40 percent of adults have had a traumatic brain injury, so these findings are definitely concerning", said study co-author Raquel Gardner, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.

The risk of Parkinson's was higher for those who'd had a moderate to severe TBI.

During the follow-up period, which took an average of 4.6 years, 1,462 of the veterans received a Parkinson's disease diagnosis. "Many have suspected that his head injuries contributed to his Parkinson's disease, but it's impossible to say for sure". "As such, we believe [the study] has important implications for the general population", Yaffe said in a statement. These included 949 participants who were found to have suffered a TBI in or out of the service, and 513 participants who suffered no such injuries in their lifetimes.

Those with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury had an 83 percent increased risk, and those with mild traumatic brain injury had a 56 percent increased risk of Parkinson's.

"If anyone is anxious", she said, "do a little bit better to live more healthily".

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