Depending on the severity of a brain injury and the area of the brain affected, many immediate and gradual effects can result. Some of the most common ways to develop brain injuries are through accidents, sports injuries and falls. Unfortunately, brain injuries can change a person’s life forever, with lingering effects years down the road.
USA Today recently reported that a traumatic brain injury (TBI) even doubles the risk of dementia later on in life.
The finding was made after researchers from the University of California-San Francisco studied a large group of veterans and found that the risk of dementia in veterans who had a TBI diagnosis was 15 percent, while the risk of dementia in veterans without a TBI diagnosis was 7 percent.
“We’re now getting a much better understanding that head injury is an important risk factor for developing dementia down the road,” the lead researcher said while presenting the study at the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual International Conference in Paris.
The researchers studied the medical records of about 300,000 veterans, who were all 55 or older, had no signs of dementia at the beginning of the study and had at least one inpatient or outpatient hospital visit between 1997 and 2000. About 2 percent of the veterans had had a TBI diagnosis, which researchers defined as a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, skull fracture and a few other non-specific head injuries.
Overall, close to 1.7 million people are diagnosed with a TBI each year, mostly due to car accidents and falls, USA Today reported. The lead researcher said that the next step is to develop more research to determine if early rehabilitation can help deter the risk for dementia.
“If you know you’ve had a head injury and you are approaching older age, one has to be carefully monitored and screened for cognitive dementia,” the lead researcher said.
Therefore, if you have suffered a head injury from a car accident and are an older adult, it’s important that you seek medical care right away. If your accident was the result of someone else’s negligence, it might also be possible to recover medical expenses through a personal injury lawsuit.
Source: USA Today, “Traumatic brain injury doubles risk of later dementia,” Mary Brophy Marcus, 7/18/2011.