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Ali: A Legendary Warrior in the Fight Against Parkinson’s

Muhammad Ali endured countless bouts in the boxing ring and political fights for civil rights, but his longest and most difficult battle was against Parkinson’s. The strength he showed after decades of fighting this disease ensured he would remain a legend both in and outside the ring. Westfield Parkinson’s home care experts discuss Ali’s life and the challenges he faced as a result of his condition.

Ali’s Diagnosis 

Diagnosing Parkinson’s is difficult, especially in its early stages. Dr. Martin Ecker was convinced Ali did not have Parkinson’s. Instead, the doctor believed the boxer had symptoms of a viral infection and heavy metal toxicity. Looking back at Ali’s historic torch carrying moment in the 1996 Olympics, many people likely noticed he displayed various symptoms of Parkinson’s, including:

• Slow movement
• Weakness 
• Difficulty walking 
• Decreased facial expressions 
• Stiffness 

Many cases of Parkinson’s go undiagnosed, and a small percentage of people are misdiagnosed. It is important to have your senior loved one see a doctor immediately if you notice him or her exhibiting any of the symptoms associated with this disease. 

The Cause of His Condition

Although Ali’s doctors never explicitly stated the injuries and blows to the head he received caused him to develop Parkinson’s disease, many people accredit the sport for his diagnosis. Many Parkinson’s cases appear with no obvious cause, while others are caused by aging, viral infections, oxidative stress, exposure to toxins, and other health issues. Most of Ali’s symptoms were genetic, although his head injuries might have been a factor. 

Treatment for His Disease 

Ali had the inherited form of Parkinson’s, which caused it to develop at a younger age. Many doctors believe Ali had early symptoms of the disease that lead to his retirement from boxing. Since the disease mainly affected one side of his body, his brain responded well to levodopa treatment. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but the various treatments can help alleviate its symptoms.

Other treatments for Parkinson’s include:

• Amantadine 
• COMT inhibitors 
• Anticholinergic agents
• MAO-B inhibitors 

His Life Cut Short 

Muhammad Ali passed away on June 3rd, 2016, at the age of 74. Seniors living with Parkinson’s sometimes have a shorter lifespan compared to those who are not living with the disease. As more research is conducted and medical advances are made, the life expectancy of those with Parkinson’s may increase.

Seniors with Parkinson’s have a greater chance of living longer, healthier, and happier lives if they make balanced lifestyle decisions. At Home Care Assistance, we offer a program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat healthy, exercise regularly, maintain strong social ties, and focus on other sound lifestyle decisions. To learn more about the senior care Westfield, NJ, families count on, call 908.450.9400 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Care Managers.