Published: Thu, April 12, 2018
Medical | By Josefina Yates

Study finds dementia risk increased with brain injury

Study finds dementia risk increased with brain injury

After one of the largest ever investigations into the link between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and cognitive decline in later life, Danish and U.S. researchers concluded that the younger a person was when sustaining a head injury, the higher the risk of developing Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Research involving three million people shows traumatic brain injury increases the risk of dementia by 24% over 36 years.

In a separate project, Irish researchers are now looking to recruit 100 adults - without dementia or any form of significant cognitive difficulty - for a large scale study which hopes to identify early signs of dementia years before memory loss and confusion develop.

"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".

More news: Bill Cosby retrial over alleged sex assault due to begin

The study found that the risk of dementia increased 33 percent higher for two or three TBIs, 61 percent higher for four TBIs, and 183 percent higher for five or more TBIs. Even compared to that group, the TBI group had higher risk for dementia. Commenting on the research, University College London neurology professor Jonathan Schott said it provided "perhaps the best evidence yet that traumatic brain injury is a risk factor for dementia". According to the study authors, more than 50 million people every year experience a traumatic brain injury.

Using the health records of 15,000 patients, the study found assessment of pupil reactivity - named GCS-Pupil or GCS-P - would have improved doctors' ability to predict patients' conditions six months after a brain injury.

Men with TBI histories developed dementia at a 30 percent rate, while women had just a 19 percent rate. And he clarified that the findings do not suggest that every person who sustains a severe TBI will develop dementia later in life.

However researchers in this study took account of other influences on dementia risk, like diabetes, heart disease, depression and substance abuse. He warns parents and children to be well-aware of risks of TBIs in contact sports. And they looked at other types of trauma, such as broken bones, and found that brain injuries were more closely tied to dementia. Our analysis raises some very important issues, in particular that efforts to prevent TBI, especially in younger people, may be inadequate considering the huge and growing burden of dementia and the prevalence of TBI worldwide. This included "less severe" injuries such as concussion. "The association of TBI with different causes and how these change across time needs policy attention, as it is likely that prevention needs to be considered at societal, community, and local levels".

Like this: