FRIDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- At 71, boxing legend Muhammad Ali -- the only three-time World Heavyweight Champion -- continues to fight his most challenging opponent ever: Parkinson's disease. And according to his daughter, he's still facing life straight on.
"This is the man who when he was fighting would say 'I'm going to knock the other guy out in five,'" said Maryum (May May) Ali. "That personality translates to how he deals with Parkinson's. No one's really been that confident as an athlete, and that's how he is with the disease."
May May is Ali's first child. Married four times, the former champion has six other daughters and two sons.
Thinking back, May May believes Ali was showing signs of Parkinson's in his second-to-last fight, a few years before his 1984 diagnosis. "You lose your [sense of] smell, get constipation issues," she said. "Most people have those non-motor symptoms first. But no one knew that back then."
Initially, in 1981, Ali was told he had a form of the condition that would not progress, May May said. But it did. As time went by, Ali learned how to manage the symptoms of his disease. He took his medications a couple of hours before working out, and he saw a neurologist who specialized in movement disorders, she explained.
Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which result from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The four primary symptoms of Parkinson's are trembling in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; stiffness of the limbs and trunk; slowness of movement; and impaired balance and coordination. As the disease progresses, patients may have difficulty walking, talking or completing other simple tasks. In the United States, about 500,000 people have the disease.
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