Understanding the link between head injury and Parkinson's risk

New research published in JAMA Neurology suggests that severe head injury, which causes loss of consciousness, could be linked to increased risk of developing Parkinson's.

Growing knowledge about the causes of Parkinson's

Researchers used data previously collected by three large scale cohort studies to look at the risk of conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia in people who reported loss of consciousness after a brain injury.

They found that, whilst a link between head injury and Alzheimer's was not present, one of the three studies study showed a slight increase in risk of Parkinson's following a severe head injury.

The study add to growing knowledge about the causes of Parkinson's, which is of vital importance to develop future treatments that can slow, stop or even prevent the condition developing.

Complex interaction of multiple factors

Beckie Port, Senior Research Communications Officer, comments:

"This study supports previous research suggesting that severe head injuries, resulting in unconsciousness and hospitalisation, could increase in the risk of developing Parkinson's."

"Parkinson's occurs due to a loss of nerve cells in the brain. We still don't know what causes the condition; however it is likely to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors rather than one single factor or event."

"Researchers have identified a number of factors that influence the risk of developing the condition, however it's very important that people understand that the risk of developing Parkinson's due to a severe head injury still remains low overall."