Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Parkinson's
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
A large percentage of people suffering from Parkinson’s or Parkinson’s like symptoms experienced a brain trauma at some point of their life.
Every year, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) causes a substantial number of deaths and leads to lifelong disability.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is usually the result of a blow or jolt to the head or body or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.
Severe TBI can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding, an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss and other physical damage to the brain that can turn into long-term complications or death.
TBI is recognized as a disease process not an event. The primary injury during the acute and sub-acute state and secondary injury during the chronic state are associated with apoptosis, oxidative stress, neuro-inflammation, abnormal protein aggregation (α-synuclein), edema, and progressive neuronal cell death.
The chronic neuro-inflammation, sensory-motor, and cognitive problems may sometimes appear many years after the initial traumatic event.
Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological symptoms. Some may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days, weeks or even years later.
Research has shown that chronic TBI cause secondary injuries linked with the development of neurodegenerative disorders such as early-onset dementia, mental illness, slowed cognitive function, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Athletes, and military veterans who sustained a concussion are at a higher risk of developing Parkinsonism or Parkinson’s disease.
With head injuries and their long-term effects on physical and mental health moving to the forefront of public awareness, it is vitally important for anyone who has suffered a traumatic head injury to be aware of the possibility of developing brain antibodies that inhibit brain function.
Among the many mechanisms implicated in Parkinsonism or Parkinson’s disease two major trademarks have been recognized specifically, progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, and the overexpression and formation of α-synuclein as Lewy bodies in the substantia nigra of the brain.
Dopaminergic neuronal degeneration causes notable decreases in the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme for dopamine, and as a result lowering the nigrostriatal dopamine levels and leading to neurotransmission impairments and eventually to symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Alpha-Synuclein is a small soluble protein expressed primarily at pre-synaptic terminals in the central nervous system that is activated through a number of processes such as phosphorylation and plays a role in synaptic vesicle recycling.
Regardless of the cause of Parkinson’s disease, all genetic and cellular modifications eventually lead to over-expression of total α-Synuclein accumulation of which has been demonstrated to cause neuronal damage. The presence of abnormal over-expression of α-synuclein can disrupt the cell membrane of dopaminergic neurons.
Most common causes of traumatic brain injury include:
Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury overall, particularly in older adults and young children.
Collisions involving: cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.
Sports injuries. Sport related traumatic brain injuries including: soccer, boxing, football, baseball, lacrosse, skateboarding, hockey, and other high-impact or extreme sports, particularly in youth.
Violence. About 20 percent of traumatic brain injuries are caused by violence, such as gunshot wounds, domestic violence or child abuse.
Combat injuries including explosive blasts. Explosive blasts are a common cause of traumatic brain injury in active-duty military personnel. Researchers believe that the pressure wave passing through the brain significantly disrupts brain function.
Penetrating Wounds. Severe blows to the head with shrapnel or debris, and falls or bodily collisions with objects following a blast.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is traumatic brain injury caused by the violent shaking of an infant that damages brain cells.
Not all blows or jolts to the head or body result in a severe TBI. Most brain injuries that occur each year are mild, generally called concussions. Mild Head Trauma may result in a brief change in mental status or consciousness. However, even mild head trauma can cause lifetime suffering.
Mild Symptoms of TBI Include:
Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
Lack of facial expression
Problems with balance and falls
Dizziness, loss of balance, confusion or disorientation
Stiffness, shuffling walk, shakiness
Nausea or vomiting
Fatigue or drowsiness
Insomnia or excessive daytime drowsiness
Blurred vision, visual hallucinations, sensitivity to light
Ringing in the ears, sensitivity to sound
Bad taste in the mouth
Changes in the ability to smell
Fluctuation in the level of alertness during the day or from one day to another
Cognitive or mental symptoms
Fluctuation of cognitive symptoms
Lack of empathy for others
Changes in self-esteem
Memory, thinking or concentration problems
Mood swings, poor judgment, confusion
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury can have wide-ranging devastating physical and psychological effects that can cause lifetime disabilities and suffering which will not only affect the individual but can also have damaging effects on there family and friends. Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later.
Moderate to Severe TBI
Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
Loss of coordination
Constant debilitating headaches
Frequent vomiting or nausea
Convulsions or seizures
One or both pupils of the eyes dilated
Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
Difficulty to awaken from sleep
Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
Infections due to bacterial penetration of skull fractures or penetrating wounds that tear the layers of protective tissues that surround the brain.
Blood vessel damage that could lead to a stroke, blood clots or other problems.
Cognitive or mental symptoms
Emotional and personality changes
Agitation, aggression or other unusual behavior
Severe depression, anxiety
Coma or absence of self-awareness (Results from widespread damage to all parts of the brain)
Persistent ringing in the ears
Difficulty recognizing objects
Impaired hand-eye coordination
Blind spots or double vision
Skin tingling, pain or itching
Loss of balance or dizziness