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A Mighty Champion’s Battle with Parkinson’s Disease

By Jeff Hill, 1:08 pm on June 13, 2016

Muhammad Ali has left behind the legacy of being one of the world’s greatest boxing champions, but he will also forever be known as a champion against Parkinson’s disease. In honor of Ali’s memory, the Phoenix home care professionals at Home Care Assistance share some details about his decades-long struggle with Parkinson’s.

Signs and Symptoms of Ali’s Illness

Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984, though he began exhibiting symptoms many years earlier. In addition to common Parkinson’s symptoms like tremors and slurred speech, he also experienced muscle rigidity that affected his ability to walk, sit, and stand. These symptoms became more severe over time, and Ali was almost completely unable to speak by 2008.

Causes of His Condition

Though the exact cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, some healthcare professionals have speculated Ali’s condition was a result of his boxing. According to a 2012 study in The Annals of Neurology, repeated blows to the head can compromise neurological function. Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disease, and Ali was an avid boxer for decades, so it’s possible his time in the ring either damaged his brain or left it vulnerable to conditions like Parkinson’s.

Ali’s Treatment

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but its symptoms can be delayed and alleviated with the help of certain treatments. For example, Ali was put on a steady regime of dopamine, an organic chemical compound that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Dopamine helped his mind communicate with his muscles again, and he regained a certain amount of control over his limbs. Though Ali wasn’t able to completely halt the disease, its progression was slowed, and the dopamine likely added many years to his life.

How Helped Others Who Lived with Parkinson’s

Ali was never shy about sharing his diagnosis with the world. In 1996, he held up an Olympic torch with shaking hands to show the entire world he had Parkinson’s. He also gave freely to various Parkinson’s charities around the world, and he even established a neurological research center in Arizona, which he funded with his own money. Ali was a fighter until the very end, raising awareness for Parkinson’s in any way he could until the disease finally claimed his life.

If you have a senior loved one who is living with Parkinson’s, help him or her become a champion against the disease with the help of Home Care Assistance. We offer specialized Parkinson’s care Phoenix, AZ, seniors and their families can trust, and our caregivers are available 24/7 to assist with tasks like exercise, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. For more information on our elderly care services, call one of our Care Managers at 602.388.1085 to request a complimentary in-home consultation.