The Heavyweight Champ’s Long Fight with Parkinson’s

By , 11:32 am on

Many consider Muhammad Ali to be one of the greatest boxers of all time, and few would dispute this. He fought inside the ring, becoming the only 3-time lineal heavyweight champion in the history of the sport, and outside the ring for racial and religious equality. However, one of the greatest fights in his life was his battle with Parkinson’s. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Caledon, ON, elderly care, discuss Ali’s long struggle with Parkinson’s and how he became an inspiration to others battling the disease.

The causes of Parkinson’s are often unknown or attributed to genetic factors, but doctors initially believed Ali’s disease developed due to the head trauma he endured from boxing. Most people diagnosed with Parkinson’s experience mild symptoms like tremors in the hands, poor posture, and shaking of the limbs. Though Ali began displaying these early symptoms before he retired from boxing in 1981, he wasn’t diagnosed until 3 years later when he was 42. By this point, his language was slurred and his body movements were slower. For the next 32 years, Ali used a combination of medicine and physical therapy to treat his disease, and his wife Lonnie took on the role of primary caregiver as the condition progressed.

Brain cells are in constant communication with one another, assisted by a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Parkinson’s causes the neurons in the brain to lose their ability to produce dopamine, which makes the body stiff and rigid. Synthetic dopamine can be taken to help the cells communicate, and Ali took advantage of this treatment. However, synthetic dopamine has a few side effects, including involuntary jerks and tics, which many people mistakenly believe is a symptom directly related to the disease.

In 1996, Ali lit the Olympic torch with a flame held high in the air. Though many watched in shock as the former boxer’s hands shook, others witnessed his bravery as he showed the world he wasn’t ready to quit his fight against Parkinson’s. Ali died at the age of 74 as a symbol of endurance in the face of great challenges.

Though living with Parkinson’s can be challenging at times, it doesn’t mean your elderly loved one has to sacrifice quality of life. If your loved one needs help managing Parkinson’s symptoms, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a trusted provider of Parkinson’s care Caledon, ON, seniors can rely on, and our dedicated caregivers are available 24/7 to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life. For more information and to schedule a free in-home consultation, call 905-951-8885 today.