Muhammad Ali 1942 – 2016


His life, his fights and his battle with Parkinson’s Disease

Who was Muhammad Ali?

Born as Cassius Marcellus Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, 1942, Muhammad Ali later became one of the greatest professional boxers the world has ever known. He began fighting at the early age of 12 and came to win 56 times in his 21 year career, winning 3 heavyweight championships and being named boxer of the year five times. Along with being a great fighter, Ali was also a controversial figure, taking stands and speaking out on issues of race, politics and religion.  At the age of 42, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a disease that began to severely affect his mobility and motor skills. Many believe that the cause of this disease for Muhammad Ali was due to the head trauma that he received in his years as a boxer.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects close to 6.5 million people worldwide. Its exact cause is unknown but science points to a combination of genetic, environmental and age related factors. The cells in the brain that produce dopamine begin to slowly die and when this happens, dopamine production is reduced, causing the symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear.

What are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s?

The symptoms and progression of this disease may be different for everyone. Some people may live for many years with very mild symptoms while others may experience a rapid onset of the disease with very severe symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  1. Shaking or tremors
  2. Muscle stiffness and rigidity
  3. Slower movements and the inability to move quickly
  4. Loss of balance
  5. Problems with speech (such as slurred words)
  6. Difficulty writing

These symptoms often will begin on one side of the body and will progress, with time to the other side. People with Parkinson’s Disease may also experience symptoms such as a loss of smell, difficulty sleeping, sudden low blood pressure when standing up and mood disorders.

Is there a Cure for Parkinson’s Disease?

Science has made many advancements in the treatment of Parkinson’s, however a cure for this disease has still not been found. There are many prescription medications available that can help to reduce the severity of symptoms and can help to slow the progression of this disease. There are also surgery and radiation options and physical therapy treatments available that can help to make the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease more manageable.

Muhammad Ali was a strong fighter in the ring and a brave fighter outside of it. He refused to hide his symptoms of Parkinson’s and continued to appear in the spotlight, bringing about awareness for this disease. His achievements were great and many and for these reasons he will always be remembered as the world’s greatest fighter.

LiveMD offers our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of this amazing man. His memory will live on forever in our hearts.

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June 9th, 2016 by