Even a Single, Mild Concussion Could Raise Parkinson's Risk
According to a large study involving 325,870 U.S. veterans, sustaining a mild head injury, or concussion, increases the risk for developing Parkinson’s disease later in life significantly – by 56 percent. Results of the study, published in Neurology, also suggest moderate-to-severe brain injuries increase Parkinson’s risk even further, by 83 percent.
The study showed that 1 in 212 veterans who had experienced a concussion developed Parkinson’s disease. In those who sustained a moderate-to-severe head injury, 1 in 134 later develop the disease. Overall, people who had experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) were diagnosed with Parkinson’s an average of two years earlier than those who hadn’t had a head injury, according to researchers.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disease marked by tremors, slow movements, balance problems, difficulty walking, and other symptoms. The disease affects about a million people, mostly over the age of 60, in the United States, and the cause is unknown. Each year, approximately 42 million people worldwide sustain a concussion. These injuries, which typically involve a brief altered state of consciousness, are more common in athletes, military personnel, and the elderly.