practice boxing, another fight against the disease

AA / Tunis / Hend Abdessamad

Slowness, rigidity or tremor, the appearance of two of these three signs is typical of Parkinson’s disease, these motor symptoms are commonly called the parkinsonian triad.

Parkinson’s disease is the second neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease, characterized by the destruction of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain, which are involved in the control of movements.

“It is a chronic neurodegenerative pathology, which leads to progressive and selective damage to brain cells”, explains French Professor Philippe Damier, neurologist and president of the scientific council of the France Parkinson association, in an interview. published by the French newspaper Journal des Femmes.

The specialist specifies: “this progressive and irreversible premature destruction of certain neurons of the substantia nigra of the brain leads to a deficit in dopamine. This is then at the origin of the classic symptoms of the disease: tremors at rest, slowness of movements and muscular rigidity known as plastic”.

The person affected by the motor triad (slowness, rigidity and tremor), feels fatigue, numbness, or even the sensation of being blocked, up to the inability to perform the slightest movement.

Akinesia, which is sluggishness, is the most common sign of the disease, where the individual has difficulty initiating movements, particularly movements requiring precision and semi-automatic movements, such as walking or writing.

Tense, hunched forward, head down, this is how rigidity is observed in a person with this pathology. This hypertonia, which can affect all the muscles of the body, sometimes leads to leaning to one side, especially when sitting.

A slow, relatively regular and not very ample tremor is the third sign which appears after several years of evolution of the disease. Not to be compared with essential tremor, this symptom is accentuated at rest, that is to say when the member concerned does not participate in any movement, and vice versa if the person initiates a movement, the tremor ceases.

The upper limbs are often the most affected, namely the hand and the wrist, however, it may only affect one finger

“The average age of diagnosis is 58 years old. The disease does not reduce life expectancy”, underlines the France Parkinson Association on its official website.

Since 1997, April 11, the anniversary of the birth of James Parkinson, has become World Parkinson’s Day.

* Why Parkinson’s

In 1817, British physician James Parkinson made history by accurately describing the then unrecognized disease of shaking palsy in his essay “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy”, examining one of six patients with symptoms of the disease and observing them to gather the information necessary for its study.

60 years later the pathology was renamed in his honor, a condition proposed by the French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot.

The causes of Parkinson’s disease remain unknown, despite years of research, doctors refer to heredity and the environment.

For the majority of cases, the hypothesis of the combination of predisposing environmental and genetic factors is the most plausible today.

“The causes of Parkinson’s disease are multiple, but we have not yet identified them all: we know that there is a genetic origin in 10 to 15% of cases. There is then a gene involved, but in the rest of the cases, it’s multifactorial: it can be both genetic and linked to an environmental factor”, specifies Philippe Damier.

Several specialists note a causal link between concussions and the repetition of trauma and frequent shocks in boxing, rugby but also football.

“About 30% of boxers develop neurological disorders after their career” indicated Jean-François Chermann, neurologist, specialist in France for concussions in athletes, is responsible for the consultation “Cerebral concussion and sport”, in his book published in 2010 “KO, the disturbing file”.

On July 19, 1996, at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, the legendary boxer, Mohamed Ali Clay, honored for lighting the Olympic flame, exposed, to the surprise of hundreds of millions of television viewers throughout the world, his Parkinson’s disease.

This appearance aroused many emotions among his admirers.

Diagnosed at the age of 42, the early onset of Parkinson’s disease in Clay caused strong suspicions around boxing in the eyes of doctors.

In his book Chermann said that Mohamed Ali “at the end of his training, lowered his guard and asked his sparring partner to hit him in the head to show that he was the strongest”, before concluding “he there is a link between his current illness and this kind of practice”.

*Non-contact boxing, for another fight

Strength, agility and balance but how to strengthen the three pillars of the musculoskeletal system in a person who, when falling, has difficulty getting up.

Rock Steady Boxing is an American non-profit organization that offers a program based on non-contact boxing training, specially adapted for people with Parkinson’s disease at a moderate or severe stage.

Fighting pathology literally and figuratively is the motto of this initiative.

Boxing exercises all the agility of body and mind by encouraging the person in motion to move in small steps in all directions without thinking too much about their feet. The benefit of this exercise for the body and for the brain is the fact of moving your hands and arms while maintaining the balance of the lower body.

Physiotherapy sessions based on non-contact boxing, which solicit both physical abilities and cognitive functions, aim to improve gait, coordination of movements, strength, dexterity, or to stimulate attention span through memory games associated with movement.

Fighting Parkinson’s disease improves the daily life of patients, helps to better manage the disease and could even slow its progression.

The Rock Steady Boxing program has its origins in studies conducted between 1980 and 1990 which showed that very physical sports such as boxing could significantly help people suffering from the disease.

For now, the management of subjects with parkinsonian triad is mainly based on the administration of dopamine, to compensate for the effects related to neurodegeneration, or other medical treatments to relieve the non-motor symptoms of the disease. .

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