Muhammad Ali is a legend, considered one of the best boxers of the 20th century, renowned for his reign as the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion, and recognized for his efforts to bring awareness to Parkinson’s disease.
After retiring briefly from boxing in 1979, Ali returned to the ring for two last disastrous fights. Although he was experiencing blurred vision and slurred speech, a doctor cleared him to fight. He retired for good in 1981, and by 1984, the fighter had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at just 42 years old.
While many suspected that Ali’s profession caused the symptoms that manifested, Parkinson’s disease is actually caused by a lack of dopamine in the brain. While experts aren’t sure exactly what causes this chemical imbalance, research shows three separate genetic connections shared among those with Parkinson’s.
When he was first diagnosed, the progression of Ali’s disease was slowed by synthetic dopamine. However, this treatment exacerbated the tremors and jerky movements that are associated with Parkinson’s disease. Generally, symptoms are unpredictable, with tremors sometimes disappearing completely in later stages. However, many people with PD experience depression and insomnia in the advanced stages.
Although Parkinson’s disease causes significant disability, the disease progresses slowly for most people, including Ali, allowing many to continue living a full life often with help from a Parkinson’s caregiver. Ali was able to make public appearances decades after he was first diagnosed, including an appearance at the 2012 Olympics in London.
With treatments like synthetic dopamine, many people with Parkinson’s now have a close to normal life expectancy. Ali passed away in June 2016 at the age of 74. Despite the fighter’s decline in later years, he will be remembered by the world as “The Greatest” for his skill in the ring and as an outspoken advocate in the fight against Parkinson’s.
For information on helping a loved one with Parkinson’s age in place, turn to Boca Raton Home Care Assistance. Our friendly, compassionate, and experienced caregivers ensure seniors with advanced conditions have the support they need to maintain wellness and safety in the comfort of home. Please call (561) 826.9282 to speak with a friendly Care Manager today.