Thanks to people like Muhammed Ali, many Americans are aware that repeated concussions and mild brain injuries can increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, a new study provides California brain injury lawyers new information about the source of this increased risk.

Scientists at UCLA have identified that the loss of a specific kind of neuron is responsible for this increased long-term risk of Parkinson’s Disease. The researchers studied rats with moderate traumatic brain injury and found that the rats suffered a 15% loss of brain cells called nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. The loss of these cells occurred soon after brain injury.

Further, the loss of the brain cells continued for weeks after the injury. The researchers estimated that there was a loss of 30% of the brain cells 26 weeks after the brain injury. The loss of these types of brain cells can result in the kind of symptoms that are typically seen in patients with Parkinson’s Disease. These symptoms include tremors, problems with movement or akinesia, and rigidity.

Further, the researchers found that the risk of Parkinson Disease after a brain injury increased when another risk factor, the pesticide Paraquat was introduced into the equation. This is a herbicide which has been known to have toxic effects on human beings. It has also been linked to the development of Parkinson’s Disease.

Researchers looked at the long-term risks of Parkinson’s disease after a traumatic brain injury as well as the difference in effects after exposure to Paraquat. They found that rats who had suffered a moderate brain injury suffered a 15% loss of the dopaminergic neurons. However, when Paraquat was introduced into the environment, there was a 30% loss of these neurons.

This suggests that not only are these neurons compromised after a traumatic brain injury, but the ones that remain also become more susceptible due to the toxicity of Paraquat.

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