While the connection between traumatic brain injuries and an increased risk of dementia has long been established, a recent study done on a statistically significant group of veterans now demonstrates that even a mild traumatic brain injury – namely a brain injury that does not result in a loss of consciousness – will increase a victim’s long-term risk for dementia by more than double.
This is an important connection to make, medically speaking, because nearly 80% of all traumatic brain injuries are considered mild. The severity of a TBI depends upon whether or not the sufferer lost consciousness, had any memory impairment or an altered mental state and how long any of these symptoms lasted. Mild TBI can be caused by car accidents, slip and fall accidents, sports injuries, and in the case of our veterans, by combat injuries.
The study conducted by the veterans administration found that compared to veterans who have never suffered brain injuries, those studied who had suffered from a mild TBI without a loss of consciousness were 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia. When the participant had lost consciousness as a result of their head trauma, the risk of dementia increased to 2.5 times more likely. For those participants whose TBI was classed as moderate to severe, the risk of dementia later in life was nearly quadruple that of someone from the average population who had never suffered from a TBI. The conclusion drawn by neurologists is that dementia incidence increases substantially for those who have had head injuries of any severity.
Those conducting the study have two theories as to why those who have experienced TBI have an increased risk of dementia. The first theory is that the traumatic event will speed up an accumulation of troublesome proteins that may destroy brain cells (this is what occurs in the brain of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Others theorize that a TBI increases the brain’s susceptibility to damage from other injuries and the aging process in general. However, both theories require more investigation to help us understand the causal link.
Despite our lack of understanding regarding why TBIs lead to a higher incidence of dementia, the research clearly shows that the number and severity of head injuries is relevant to a person’s risk of increased dementia. These studies also show that getting the proper treatment following a head injury and preventing re-injury to the head are critical in attempting to limit the increased risk of dementia associated with traumatic brain injuries.
If you have suffered from a mild TBI in a car accident or slip and fall due to the negligence of another individual or business, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call Aaron M. House at 816-875-4260 to discuss your potential claim with an experienced and compassionate attorney.
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