Traumatic brain injury can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease according to scientists at U.C.L.A. who have found the loss of a specific type of neuron (nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons) is the cause for traumatically induced Parkinson’s disease.
Many years ago, I successfully established the link between trauma and Parkinson’s disease in a case tried to a multimillion dollar jury verdict in New York following a collision between a taxi and a bus where my client, a passenger in the taxi cab, developed Parkinson’s like symptoms shortly after the accident took place. In the collision, after the taxi was hit by a bus, my client struck her head in the cab, developed a concussion and within weeks began exhibiting the signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
In a pre-clinical study, the researchers found that a moderate traumatic brain injury in rats caused a 15 percent loss in the brain cells known as nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons shortly after the trauma, and that this loss continued to progress to a 30 percent loss 26 weeks after the initial injury.
The loss of these particular neurons can result in the cardinal motor symptoms observed in Parkinson's patients, including akinesia (problems with movement), postural tremor and rigidity.
The study appears in the current online edition of the Journal of Neurotrauma.