Traumatic brain injuries up risk of dementia

by Joy Montgomery April 12, 2018, 0:36
Traumatic brain injuries up risk of dementia

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, even a mild one such as a concussion, may raise your risk for dementia, a new study suggests. The risk of dementia was highest among people who had suffered multiple T.B.I.s.

"However, it's important to emphasise that although the relative risk of dementia is increased after traumatic brain injury, the absolute risk increase is low". - "Best evidence yet" - "Importantly, a person who has sustained a TBI should do what they can to prevent further TBIs as the risk of dementia increases with the number of TBIs", Fann told AFP. Even a single mild T.B.I. increased the risk by 17 percent.

Despite the size of the studies, they won't settle scientific questions - or social debate - about brain injuries from sports, war, vehicle crashes or domestic violence. "Making major decisions about brain injured patients rely on quick assessments and the new method gives us rapid insights into the patient's condition".

A TBI is classified as a blow to the head which disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. The researchers found that 4.3 percent of participants with dementia had at least one mild TBI, compared with 4 percent of those without dementia.

According to Fann, most people who sustain a single concussion do not develop dementia and the findings do not suggest that every person who sustains a severe TBI will develop dementia later in life. Leading causes of TBI include falls, traffic crashes and assaults.

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They found 132,093 people had a TBI at some point between 1977-2013, and 126,734 were diagnosed with a form of dementia between 1999 and 2013.

"TBI was associated with an increased risk of dementia both compared with people without a history of TBI and with people with non-TBI trauma", the authors write.

The overall risk of dementia in individuals with a history of TBI was 24 per cent higher than those without a history of TBI, after accounting for other risk factors for the disease. TBI correlated with elevated dementia risk compared to individuals with a non-TBI fracture not involving the skull or spine (hazard ratio, 1.29).

The researchers also discovered that a brain injury in your 20s increases the risk of developing dementia in your 50s by 60 percent. One possible weakness of the study was that it looked at people from a single country with a "fairly similar ethnic population", said the authors - meaning its findings may not apply to people of other ethnic groups in other countries.

Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Carol Brayne from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK says, "Now we need to tease out what is happening in terms of TBI, wider spectrum exposures, and how these occur across different ages, by gender, and also by community within societies".


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