Muhammad Ali Opens New Parkinson’s Disease Center

Boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, made a rare public appearance yesterday to help open the newly expanded Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix, AZ.

The facility is now the most comprehensive in the nation for the treatment of the brain disorder which has affected Ali since 1984.

Ali is one of several celebrities, including Michael J. Fox, who have turned their diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease into institutes dedicated to research into the disease.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a brain disorder of the nerve cells (neurons) in the brain that control movement called the basal ganglia.

One part of the basal ganglia,called the substantia nigra, produces a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is important because it allows for the smooth movement of muscles in the body.

For unknown reasons, in Parkinson’s Disease these brain cells are damaged and stop producing dopamine.  When the level of dopamine drops below a certain amount, noticeable symptoms of PD begin to occur.

These symptoms include:

  • Tremor (shaking) of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • Slowness of movement
  • Rigidity (stiffness) of the arms, legs and trunk
  • Poor balance and coordination


Currently,there is no cure for PD. Treatment primarily consists of drugs that either replace or mimic dopamine, which can lessen symptoms. Surgery may be used as a last resort in a selective group of patients.
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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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