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Ali Fought Strong and Hard Against Parkinson’s Disease

By , 4:29 pm on

A long career in the boxing ring was light work compared to the battle Muhammad Ali faced after his retirement. Ali’s decades-long struggle with Parkinson’s disease proved he was an inspiration in and outside of the ring. Naples Parkinson’s care experts share information on the disease and how Ali put up a great fight against it.

What Is Parkinson’s?

Like many people who develop Parkinson’s, Ali was unaware he had the disease until he was officially diagnosed with it. Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that typically affects a person’s movement. The disease generally begins with a small tremor in the hands before slowly progressing into more severe symptoms.

Ali’s Diagnosis

Since there is no official test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease, many people are misdiagnosed. Ali’s doctor was positive the legendary boxer did not have Parkinson’s. Instead, the doctor believed a viral infection and heavy metal toxicity were the causes. Doctors are now beginning to look for the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s at regular checkups. This change helps people with Parkinson’s receive treatment to alleviate some of the symptoms, which include:

• Loss of balance
• Slurred speech
• Slow movement
• Depression
• Changes in sleep

He Stayed in the Ring with Parkinson’s

Even though Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and was not diagnosed with Parkinson’s until 3 years later, many speculate he developed the disease before retirement. Approximately 10 weeks prior to Ali’s fight against Larry Holmes in 1980, doctors found a small hole in the outer layer of his brain. Ali also reported a tingling sensation in his hands and slurred speech prior to this fight. Some people view Ali’s Parkinson’s diagnosis as the final fight of his life, but it was really the beginning of his biggest battle.

His Final Fight

Parkinson’s is not fatal, but the disease can lead to dangerous health conditions. Some of the ailments people living with Parkinson’s are more prone to include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Galloping blood infections
  • Sepsis

Muhammad Ali died of septic shock, a health issue he became vulnerable to due to his condition. This overwhelming blood infection is becoming increasingly common among people with Parkinson’s.

Seniors with Parkinson’s who wish to continue living at home may need part-time or 24-hour assistance. At Home Care Assistance, our respite and live-in caregivers can make it easier to manage Parkinson’s symptoms by helping with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, and many other tasks. Learn more about the senior home care Naples families count on by calling a Client Care Manager at (239) 449-4701 and scheduling a free consultation.