Life Expectancy

Usually people who have Parkinson’s disease can have a normal life expectancy. If they continue to take their normal medications and go to their regular doctors appointments, they’ll be able to control their symptoms and be able to live a normal life. But for the others that neglect their medications or the ones that have had it for a longer amount of time can be prone to other illness that can make the Parkinson’s disease symptoms worse and eventually causing death. Also, it depends on how old the person was when they were first diagnosed. The younger the person is, the better off they are since they are able to fight off some of the health issues that Parkinson’s disease can develop. When an older person such as in their late 60’s or 70’s develop Parkinson’s disease, their life expectancy is lowered because of their inability to fight off certain illnesses or health issues that are associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Health Issues


Some people may have emotional changes that have Parkinson’s. They become insecure or fearful which results in not wanting to spend time with their friends and family, travel or go to social events. They also sometimes lose their motivation and become dependent on others. They also tend to have memory loss during the later stages of this condition. Also because of the loss of dopamine, the muscles in the body are less efficient in the later stage which means the muscles in their mouth and throat would give out and the patients who are eating will choke on their food or begin to drool. Another thing that is affected because of the loss of dopamine is their ability to urinate and defecate. Patients that have these problems have an improper functioning autonomic nervous system which controls the smooth muscle activity. Because of the loss of dopamine, the muscles that control people to urinate and defecate are limited which can be very serious and they can be hospitalized for quite some time.



Depression is one of the most common health issues that Parkinson disease patients deal with. Depression occurs because they receive medications that do not work or it makes their symptoms worse. Many of the medications depend on how long the person has had Parkinson’s disease so some medications work better rather than others. Because of this, many patients have to go through many different kinds of medications to see which ones works which can take a toll on some people. Also, since Parkinson’s disease is incurable, it makes the matters worse. By hearing that it’s incurable they automatically give up since they think that since they have this condition they can’t live a normal life. Though Muhammad Ali has many of these health issue, he has not developed depression.

Henry Clay

 Though many patients that have this condition develop Depression, not all of them do. I interviewed Henry Clay, a patient at Norton Brownsboro Hospital that has had Parkinson’s disease for 20 years and he’s the completely opposite. Clay stated, “I try to live my life to fullest without any regrets, especially with my condition but it’s very hard to since I am limited to certain things I can do.” When interviewing him, I could tell by his on and off tremors and slurred speech that he’s had Parkinson’s disease for many years. By him smiling and laughing, the mask-like facial expressions has not affected him but that symptom usually occurs in much later stages. Though Muhammad Ali and Henry Clay have many things in common such as them both having Parkinson’s disease, another is that they both believe that you should still continue to live your life even with this chronic disease. Of course Muhammad Ali misses his past life, but having this conditions shows him how precious life really is.


Though there is not a cure for Parkinson’s disease there many medications. One of the most common medications that many Parkinson’s disease patients use today is called Levodopa or better known as L-dopa. Levodopa pretends to be dopamine in the brain which allows the people who have Parkinson’s disease to be able to do some common tasks such as feed themselves, put on their clothes, walk without their walker etc. It allows them to do certain things on their own so they’re not completely dependent on their friends and family members all the time. Levodopa was first introduced in the 1960’s and it has changed all of the people who have Parkinson’s disease lives for the better. Many Parkinson’s disease patients have mistaken the drug Levodopa as being a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Though it does delay some of the symptoms, it does not completely eliminate them. They eventually come back but having a drug that provides dopamine to the brain is a good start to trying to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Is boxing to blame?

Many people began to wonder if his boxing career had anything to do with his Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Muhammad Ali ringside physician stated, “Boxing in and out of itself is not the cause of Muhammad Ali’s brain injuries, but rather, it was Muhammad Ali fighting for too long and fighting at an advanced age that resulted in his injuries.” According to the Hope Through Research pamphlet, no one knows the actual cause of Parkinson’s disease. So Muhammad Ali’s Parkinson’s disease had nothing to do with his past boxing career. Millions of people are affected by this disease and they aren’t boxers so the cause remains unknown. Though there’s not a cause for this disease, the heavy amount of head trauma and brain damage can be a logical connection between his boxing career and Parkinson’s disease.

-Erica Barfield


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