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Research : The Risks of Concussion

4 November 2020

A concussion can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 57%

Winter is approaching, which announces the beginning of hockey season. Whoever your favorite team is, you know that this sport bears certain risks, notably the risk of getting a concussion. Concussions are movements of the brain in the skull linked to blows to the head, neck or face.

These concussions, often benign,belong to the category of mild traumatic brain injuries. They should not, however, be taken lightly. They appear to increase the risk of developing several neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.

The study

A study led by a group of researchers from Manitoba evaluated the increase in the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, dementia, a mood and anxiety disorder or an attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder after a concussion.

It is not the first study to demonstrate a link between Parkinson’s disease and concussions. Here, researchers have compared medical files from more than 47,000 people who have had at least one concussion, with those of 139,000 people who had never had a concussion, for a period of 25 years.

Results

The study demonstrates that independently of age, sex and socioeconomic status, a person who has had a concussion has an increased risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, a mood and anxiety disorder disorder or an attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The risks are increased by:

  • 57% for Parkinson’s disease
  • 72% for dementia
  • 39% for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders
  • 72% for mood and anxiety disorders.

Repeated concussions further increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and dementia. The risk of having Parkinson’s more than triples after 3 concussions.

 What does this mean?

The study confirms that concussions are an important risk factor of Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, having a concussion increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 57%. Additionally, this risk is more than tripled when a person has had at least three concussions.

Further studies are needed to properly understand how concussions increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. This study nevertheless shows that measures must be taken to prevent and better handle concussions.

Source

Morissette, M. P., Prior, H. J., Tate, R. B., Wade, J., & Leiter, J. R. S. (2020). Associations between concussion and risk of diagnosis of psychological and neurological disorders: a retrospective population-based cohort study. Fam Med Community Health, 8(3). doi:10.1136/fmch-2020-000390

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