According to a number of recent studies, there appears to be a distinct connection between traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and an increased risk of dementia in veterans and older adults.
According to a study published in the journal Neurology, older veterans who sustained concussions or traumatic brain injuries during the course of service were 60 percent more likely to develop dementia as compared to those service members who did not suffer some type of head trauma.
Veterans who are also TBI victims have been known to develop dementia up to two years earlier than veterans who did not suffer a TBI. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other types of cerebrovascular diseases increase that risk even further.
A study published in JAMA Neurology found that once an individual reaches the age of 55, his or her risk of developing dementia after sustaining a moderate or severe TBI increases. Out of the study’s 164,661 patients (51,799 of whom were diagnosed with TBI), 8.4 percent of those with a TBI developed dementia, whereas only 5.9 percent of the study’s control patients developed the condition.
In addition, patients who sustained a TBI generally began to develop signs of dementia months before those in the control group.
With close to 60 percent of all TBI-related hospitalizations occurring among individuals who are 55 or older, and many of these occurring as a result of a fall, this recently identified link highlights an urgent need to develop treatments that can help individuals suffering from dementia cope with the condition.
If researchers can figure out what causes the brain to develop dementia after suffering a TBI, it could lead to possible treatments or the potential for a cure. This link between dementia and brain injuries might also be able to help individuals prepare for and take preventive measures to slow the onset of symptoms.
- Medical News Today: Traumatic brain injury in older adults linked to increased dementia risk and Veterans study suggests risk of dementia rises with traumatic brain injury
- Healthline: Study: Concussions Lead to Increased Dementia Risk in Older Adults