New Study Sheds Light on Potential Long-Term Effects of TBI

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A new study illustrates the long-term impact that traumatic brain injury (TBI) may have on victims.

The study came out June 25 in the online journal, Neurology. According to the study, TBI in the older U.S. military veterans whose medical records were reviewed in the study was associated with a 60 percent increase in the risk of developing dementia.

While this study certainly has implications for military personnel who are exposed to the risk of severe TBI in the field, it also has relevance to civilians.

The study looked at traumatic brain injuries that could result from not only military events but industrial accidents, automobile accidents and sports accidents as well, a co-researcher told the Los Angeles Times.

Study Finds Heightened Risk of Dementia in TBI Victims

In the study, researchers from the University of California-San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center examined the medical records of 188,764 U.S. veterans ages 55 and older who were patients in the VA health system between 2000 and 2003 and who had not been diagnosed with dementia during that timeframe. Out of that group, 1,229 veterans had been diagnosed with TBI.

The researchers analyzed the records of both the TBI and non-TBI veterans from 2003 to 2012 and compared their dementia rates. The study found that 16 percent of the veterans with TBI developed dementia during the nine-year follow-up period, while only 10 percent of the veterans without TBI developed dementia.

The study’s results indicate that TBI in older military veterans may predispose them towards the development of dementia. Younger veterans and civilians should be concerned about the long-term effects of TBI as well, the researchers said.

As the Times points out, the study did not answer the question of whether victims of mild brain injuries, such as concussions that are often suffered in sports contests, may face a similar heightened risk of developing dementia.

The study also did not establish a clear link between TBI and dementia. It could be that other factors contribute to development of the condition, including genetic factors and alcoholism.

Research suggests that TBI may actually work in concert with those other factors to raise the risk of TBI, the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) reports.

What Is Dementia?

As this study suggests, TBI victims and their families should pay close attention to the signs of dementia – even long after the TBI has appeared to heal. They may also wish to learn more about treating the condition.

According to WebMD, dementia is marked by a decline in mental skills and can impact one’s ability to carry out daily life activities. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

WebMD says that signs of dementia include memory loss, difficulties recognizing people and places, problems forming speech and troubles with controlling moods or behaviors.

Doctors may prescribe a wide range of medications and antidepressants to treat dementia, the Mayo Clinic states. However, care and support from those close to the victim will be crucial as well.

 

Submitted by Geoff McDonald & Associates , P.C.

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