19 July 2011


A brain injury more than doubles the risk of dementia, according to new research.
A large study of older war veterans suggests those who experienced traumatic brain injury (TBI) during their lives had more than two times the risk of developing dementia, according to scientists.
The researchers presented their findings stating that they are now getting a much better understanding that head injury is an important risk factor for developing dementia down the road.
Researchers looked at medical records of nearly 300,000 veterans, all 55 or older. None had dementia at the study's start. About 2% had had a TBI. All had at least one inpatient or outpatient visit between 1997 and 2000 and a follow-up sometime between 2001 and 2007.
A diagnosis of a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, a skull fracture or some non-specific head injuries are considered TBIs.
The risk of dementia was 15% in those with a TBI diagnosis, compared with almost 7% in those who had never had a TBI.
Other studies have shown that TBI can increase the risk of dementia: It might hit earlier, and symptoms could worsen.
About 1.7 million people experience a TBI each year, mostly because of falls and car accidents. TBI also is referred to as the "signature wound" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where TBI accounts for 22% of casualties overall and 59% of blast-related injuries.
With so many soldiers returning from war affected by blasts, the relationship between TBI and dementia needs to be sorted out.
It's unknown at this point how many soldiers have a history of brain injury
More research is needed to explore whether early rehabilitation can help reduce the risk for dementia. One researcher stated that if you know you've had a head injury and you are approaching older age, one has to be carefully monitored and screened for cognitive dementia.

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