According to new research, a traumatic brain injury involving a loss of consciousness may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s, a disease which affects over seven million people worldwide.
Dr. Paul Crane, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle prediced it may be down to a sequence of events: “It could be that the head injury itself initiates a cascade of effects that ultimately lead to Parkinson’s disease”.
Alternatively, Dr. Crane acknowledges, trauma will make it “more difficult for people who have sustained a head injury to recover, adjust or deal with the cascade of events leading to Parkinson’s disease that are separate from the head injury itself”.
The study, however, could not conclusively prove that a traumatic head injury causes the risk of Parkinson’s to rise.
The study, conducted by Dr. Crane, utilised data from more than 7,000 elderly adults, with the average age coming in at 80 years old.
Of the group, 865 had suffered a head injury and lost consciousness at some point in their lives, and 142 of them had been unconscious for over an hour following the trauma.
In total, the entire group consisted of more than 1,500 dementia and 117 Parkinson’s sufferers.
Dr. Crane’s team seemingly uncovered a link between those with a brain injury and loss of consciousness for over one hour, with a greater risk of Parkinson’s. They further found a link to a larger risk of microscopic stroke.
Inconclusively, it was not clear why there was an associated link, and the cause of Parkinson’s, a disease which progressively affects the central nervous system, remains unknown.
The full results of the study can be found in the journal: JAMA Neurology