A single concussion may increase Parkinson’s risk


HAVING a single concussion may increase a person’s risk for Parkinson’s disease, a new study suggests — but the overall risk of developing the disease still remains low.
The study, which analyzed information from more than 320,000 U.S. veterans, found that those who’d experienced a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), often called a concussion, were 56 percent more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s than those who’d never had a concussion.
Although the study participants had served in the military, their concussions were often reported to have happened during their civilian lives, said senior study author Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine. “As such, we believe [the study] has important implications for the general population,” Yaffe said in a statement.
Previous research has found a link between Parkinson’s disease and moderate to severe TBIs; however, this is the first large study to show a link between milder head injuries and Parkinson’s, the researchers said. [10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Brain]
However, it’s important to note that, even if participants experienced a concussion, their risk of Parkinson’s was still very low. Overall, 360 out of 76,297 participants with a concussion, or 0.47 percent, developed Parkinson’s; and 543 out of 72,592 participants with moderate to severe TBIs, or 0.75 percent, developed the disease.
The researchers analyzed health information from 325,870 veterans, ages 31 to 65, using three U.S. databases from the Veterans Health Administration. About half of the participants had been diagnosed with either a concussion or a more serious moderate to severe TBI at some point in their lives. (The study was not able to look at the frequency of TBI, so some particpants may have experienced more than one TBI.) Participants were then followed for an average of 4.6 years.
During the follow-up time, 1,462 participants were diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Of these, 949 participants with any TBI, or 0.58 percent, developed the disease, compared with 513 participants with no TBI, or 0.31 percent.
The risk of Parkinson’s was higher for those who’d had a moderate to severe TBI. These participants were 83 percent more likely to develop the condition than those who’d never had a TBI.

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