UW research links brain injuries with dementia

12 April, 2018, 00:36 | Author: Andrea Terry
  • Concussion in 20s could increase the risk of dementia by 60 per cent, Lancet study finds

For example, one traumatic brain injury is associated with about a 22 percent increased risk of dementia.

Responding to the study, Dr Mahmoud Maina, a research associate at the University of Sussex said: "The findings are truly novel due to the large sample size employed, in-depth history collected and follow-ups".

"Individuals with a history of TBI, including those with less severe injuries have an increased risk of developing dementia, even decades after the injury".

Traumatic brain injury caused by an accident or a blow to the head increases the risk of dementia according to a recently published study. But even a single, mild TBI - such as a concussion - was associated with a 17 percent higher risk of dementia.

"However, it's important to emphasize that although the relative risk of dementia is increased after traumatic brain injury, the absolute risk increase is low", Fann noted in a journal news release.

According to the UN's World Health Organization, about 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease - the most common form with about two-thirds of cases. They assessed the long-term risk of dementia in people who had suffered a TBI, compared to those without a TBI, and also those who had experienced physical traumas that did not involve the brain or spine, such as fractured bones.


In total, 5.3 per cent of participants with dementia had a history of TBI compared with 4.7 per cent of those without the condition. The mean age at first diagnosis of dementia was 80.7 years.

Men with TBI histories developed dementia at a 30 percent rate, while women had just a 19 percent rate. "Our findings do not suggest that everyone who suffers a traumatic brain injury will go on to develop dementia in later life". This could include regular exercise and avoiding other risk-boosting behaviours such as smoking, or eating and drinking too much.

"There are some cognitive rehabilitation strategies that may decrease the cognitive deficits associated with a brain injury", he said.

Fann said more research is needed to understand who is at greatest risk of dementia and what other factors contribute to that risk. He added: "This study certainly reinforces the fact that sports in which head injury occurs are unsafe and may make us susceptible to dementia".

They identified and cumulative effect, and found dementia risk rises with repeated episodes of brain injury. Above all, those affected should try to avoid further traumatic brain injury. "Our findings suggest that improved traumatic brain injury prevention programmes may have an opportunity to reduce the burden of dementia worldwide". This included "less severe" injuries such as concussion.

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