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Muhammad Ali and His Decades-Long Round with Parkinson’s

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers of all time, but the greatest opponent of his life existed outside of the ring. At the age of 42, just 3 years after ending his boxing career, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and began an arduous battle with the disease for the next 3 decades. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Summit elder home care, examines Parkinson’s disease and the effects it had on Ali’s life.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s is a neurological condition. Many theorized the repeated blows to Ali’s head were what caused his brain injuries. However, this disease sometimes appears for no apparent reason. A link between viral infections and Parkinson’s has often been speculated, but there is no real proof connecting the two. This condition is known for its tremors, which typically begin in the hands and move on to other areas of the body. The muscles grow rigid and tighten, making movement difficult in the later stages of the disease. Even the tongue may shake and affect the ability to speak.

Signs Something Was Amiss with Ali’s Health

Though the progression of Parkinson’s is different for each person, the symptoms are often the same. Ali experienced many of the common symptoms by the time he retired, but he did not receive a diagnosis until 3 years later. When he ended his career, his speech was slurred, his movements were slower, and the shaking had begun. He was given prescription medications to help alleviate the symptoms. By the time Ali attended President Obama’s inauguration ceremony in 2009, he was unable to speak as a result of the disease.

The End of a Legendary Life

Parkinson’s disease causes a weakness in brain function. Due to this weakened state, other medical conditions usually compound the problem. However, thanks to advances in technology, people with Parkinson’s have a better chance at a normal life expectancy. Ali died from respiratory distress, and the medications used to treat Parkinson’s are known to cause these types of problems. Parkinson’s disease did not directly end Ali’s life, but the effects it had on his body were major contributing factors. On June 3, 2016, the world lost a legend, but it will never forget him.

Though living with Parkinson’s can be challenging, its symptoms can be easier to manage with professional assistance. At Home Care Assistance, our dedicated Parkinson’s caregivers are available 24/7 to assist with mobility and exercise, provide transportation to medical appointments, and help with a wide array of daily tasks. For more information on the Parkinson’s care Summit families trust, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at 908.450.9400 to schedule a free in-home consultation.