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Inside the Life of Muhammad Ali & His Battle with PD

By Jonathan Wells, 9:00 am on

As was the case with Robin Williams, the recent death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali is putting the spotlight on a condition that affects millions. For Ali, the affliction that had a profound effect on his life was Parkinson’s disease, a progressive condition that presents many challenges for the person living with it, their loved ones, and Parkinson’s caregivers.

Remaining Defiant

Diagnosed with the progressive disease in 1984, Ali remained courageous even as the impact of the PD became increasingly visible. For Ali, the most apparent sign of the condition was the tremors that resulted in noticeable shaking and difficulty walking. The Olympic gold medal winner continued to make public appearances and live a fairly active life long after being diagnosed.

Brain Injury Connection

Before being diagnosed with PD at the age of 42, Ali had sustained repeated blows to his head during his boxing career. It had long been suggested that his brain injuries may have contributed to his PD, although there is no one specific cause associated with Parkinson’s disease. Nerve cells in certain parts of the brain eventually break down or die as the condition advances.

A Steady Decline

Most people with PD have a normal lifespan, although the disease can make seniors with PD more susceptible to developing other medical conditions that may impact quality of life. Initially, the worst of Ali’s Parkinson’s symptoms were controlled with medication, although he eventually lost the ability to speak in public and was confined to a wheelchair most of the time.

Early signs of Parkinson’s are usually mild. The tremors associated with PD often affect only one limb or just the hands and fingers. Patients may eventually have difficulty walking and speaking as muscles become weaker. Treatment options include medications, lifestyle modifications, and physical therapy to increase muscle strength and improve overall coordination and balance.

Hiring a home care agency in Douglas County can also help ensure your loved one is able to maintain a high quality of life as Parkinson’s progresses. At Home Care Assistance, our caregivers are expertly trained to help seniors manage their symptoms and provide mental, physical, and emotional support. For more information, please give us a call at 720-287-1685 and schedule a free in-home consultation.