Ronald W. Ramirez, Attorney at Law

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Did repetitive head injuries cause Muhammad Ali's Parkinson's disease?

The recent death of boxer Muhammad Ali is once again highlighting the dangers of head injuries, especially those suffered repeatedly by athletes in certain sports. Ali had Parkinson's disease, which is a neurological disease that has been linked by some studies to head injuries.

In Ali's case, however, the evidence that boxing injuries resulted in Parkinson's disease is not conclusive. Some people suggest that Ali's diagnosis at the relatively young age of 42 shows the possibility that the disease was genetic. One of his daughters, meanwhile, said in an interview that his exposure to pesticides may have also played a role.

A dangerous sport for all who play

Regardless of the reason for Ali's Parkinson's, there is no doubt about the dangers of boxing and head injuries. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that almost 90 percent of boxers suffer some type of brain injury during their career.

Just as in other sports, wearing helmets would reduce the number and severity of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) athletes suffer. This may not completely stop TBI from occurring, however.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons also reported that being hit by a professional boxer is like "being hit with a 13-pound bowling ball traveling 20 miles per hour, or about 52 times the force of gravity."

Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by any blow to the head or the body which causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull. While a helmet may absorb some of the blow of a boxer's punch, very hard punches or those that cause the head and neck to snap in another direction may still result in a brain injury.

If a family member suffers a brain injury during amateur or professional sports, you need to seek the right medical care immediately. Speak with an attorney who is dedicated to TBI patients and their families to learn how to get the appropriate treatment and how to take legal action.

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