Could a brain injury eventually lead to dementia?

Could an accident eventually lead to dementia?

That's the indication from a psychiatric study that looked at 2.8 million patients for evidence that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) eventually lead to Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.

Unfortunately for those who have suffered TBIs, it wasn't long before researchers found the connection they suspected was there. In fact, once all other variables were accounted for, just one TBI described as "mild" (like a concussion), raised the likelihood that the victim would eventually develop some form of dementia by as much as 17 percent. There is even worse news for victims who experienced a TBI that was considered severe. Those patients had a 35 percent higher risk than normal of developing dementia.

Other data gleaned from the research was similarly grim. Victims who suffered repeated TBIs, even mild ones, also experienced higher-than-normal rates of dementia. This is particularly significant for those who may be in professions that leave them exposed to head injuries on a regular basis, like sports players and soldiers. Patients who experience four brain injuries during their lifetimes were 61 percent more likely than average to develop dementia. Those who received five head injuries (or more) increased their risk of dementia to 183 percent greater than normal.

The age of the victim at the time of the injury also had some significance in the study. Young victims, those in their 20s, were 60 percent more likely than average to develop dementia by their 50s.

The implications of this study are enormous. It indicates the need for more measures to prevent unnecessary TBIs, with a focus on preventing repeat injuries in particular. It also could have significance in legal arenas as well. When the victims of traumatic brain injuries seek compensation, it may be necessary to consider the likelihood that there will be another round of devastating consequences long after the initial aftermath is over.

Source: UW Medicine, "Risk of dementia increases with traumatic brain injury," Bobbi Nodell, accessed May 04, 2018

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