The Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism, a term encompassing motor symptoms present in Parkinson’s disease and related conditions, have been documented in boxers since the 1920s.
It has now emerged that repetitive head impacts in American football can lead to enduring neurological consequences like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). However, there is a lack of data regarding the connection between tackle football and Parkinson’s disease.
What is the study about?
Researchers at the Boston University’s CTE Centre utilised a substantial online dataset of individuals concerned about Parkinson’s Disease to conduct an extensive study to probe the correlation between football participation and the likelihood of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Diseases.
Their findings indicated that individuals with a history of organized tackle football had a 61 per cent higher probability of receiving a diagnosis of parkinsonism or Parkinson’s Disease.
Within this study, the team assessed 1,875 sports participants, including 729 male football players primarily at the amateur level, and 1,146 men engaged in non-football sports, serving as the control group.
These participants were part of Fox Insight, an ongoing online study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, focusing on individuals both with and without Parkinson’s Disease.
Significantly, the researchers identified a connection between football involvement and an elevated likelihood of parkinsonism or Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, even after accounting for known Parkinson’s Disease risk factors.
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Additionally, the data revealed that players with longer careers and those competing at higher levels faced greater odds of being diagnosed with parkinsonism or Parkinson’s Disease.
Football players at the college or professional level exhibited a 2.93-fold increased chance of Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis compared to those who only played at the youth or high school level.
Interestingly, the age at which individuals first started playing football was not linked to the likelihood of receiving a parkinsonism or Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis.
What is the bottom line?
The researchers highlighted the strength of their study, comparing football players to a distinct group of athletes. Moreover, a notable aspect of the study was that most participants engaged in tackle football at the amateur level, in contrast to prior research that predominantly focused on professional athletes.
(With inputs from agencies)
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