Medical

A Traumatic brain injury increases risk of dementia by 24 percent

A Traumatic brain injury increases risk of dementia by 24 percent

A nationwide study of 2.8 million people over 36 years in Denmark has found that a person's risk of developing dementia increases with the number and severity of traumatic brain injuries.

Professor Jonathan Schott of UCL's Institute of Neurology said the research provides "perhaps the best evidence yet that traumatic brain injury is a risk factor for dementia", but said further work was required to differentiate types of injuries, such as sport-related concussions, and how they affect the brain.

Fann said another important finding is that if you have a brain injury in your 20s, the risk of developing dementia in your 50s is increased by 60 percent.

Suffering a traumatic brain injury from a blow to the head boosted dementia risk by 24 percent in a Danish study group of almost three million people, researchers said Wednesday.

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. But even a single, mild TBI - such as a concussion - was associated with a 17 percent higher risk of dementia. From 1999 to 2013, 4.5 percent of the patients over age 50 years developed dementia. "Making major decisions about brain injured patients rely on quick assessments and the new method gives us rapid insights into the patient's condition". TBI occurs when an external force such as a bump or blow to the head disrupts the normal function of the brain.

Traumatic brain injuries dementia research

Responding to the study, Dr Mahmoud Maina, a research associate at the University of Sussex said: "The findings are truly novel due to the large sample size employed, in-depth history collected and follow-ups".

A traumatic brain injury can be caused by a fall, a traffic accident, a sports accident or a violent attack. The study also examined the impact of sustaining multiple separate brain injuries and the likelihood of subsequently developing dementia. This could include regular exercise and avoiding other risk-boosting behaviours such as smoking, or eating and drinking too much.

Overall, the risk of dementia was slightly higher in men who had sustained a TBI compared to women.

"However, it's important to emphasize that although the relative risk of dementia is increased after traumatic brain injury, the absolute risk increase is low", Fann noted in a journal news release. One possible weakness of the study was that it looked at people from a single country with a "fairly similar ethnic population", said the authors - meaning its findings may not apply to people of other ethnic groups in other countries. "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".


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