Health Care

Traumatic brain injuries and dementia research

Traumatic brain injuries and dementia research

Over 36 years, 132,093 individuals (4.7%) had at least one TBI diagnosis, most (85%) were mild in severity.

The researchers also discovered that a brain injury in your 20s increases the risk of developing dementia in your 50s by 60 percent.

"Severe TBI is particularly frequent in young people, and it is concerning that the risk of dementia is particular high in relatively young persons who suffer TBI", said Jakob Christensen, an associate professor at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark. The patients whose records were analyzed include injuries ranging from mild to severe.

"Individuals with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI). have an increased risk of developing dementia, even decades after the injury", said study leader Jesse Fann of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

To address these methodological issues, Danish and American researchers identified a population-based cohort of almost 2.8 million adults to examine the long-term risk of dementia in people with a history of TBI compared to those without TBI and those with non-TBI physical trauma (fracture not involving head or spine).

Overall, the risk of dementia was 24 percent higher for people with a traumatic brain injury compared with people without one.

According to United Nations data, around 50 million people around the world suffer from dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease. Every year, more than 50 million people worldwide experience a TBI.

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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.

Researchers found that age plays a factor: "the younger younger a person was when sustaining a TBI, the higher the HRs [hazard ratios] for dementia when stratified by time since TBI".

This rose to 33 percent in cases of two or three TBIs, 61 percent for four TBIs, and 183 percent higher for five or more. Each year, there are ten million new patients.

The association between TBI and dementia held true even when comparing people with a history of TBI to those with non-TBI fractures not involving the skull or spine.

"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.

This could include regular exercise and avoiding other risk-boosting behaviours such as smoking, or eating and drinking too much.

Measuring how a patient's pupils react to light could greatly help with treatment decisions for brain injuries, the scientists say. As a outcome of those injuries, the CDC said 230,000 people are hospitalized and survive, 50,000 die and 80,000 to 90,000 experience the onset of long-term disability.


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