Advanced, Instant Brain-Injury Detecting Test Could Analyze Patient Consciousness

Ray Weaver
April 12, 2018

After one of the largest ever investigations into the link between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and cognitive decline in later life, Danish and U.S. researchers concluded that the younger a person was when sustaining a head injury, the higher the risk of developing Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

The risk of dementia increased with the number of TBIs and the severity of injury.

A link between brain injuries and dementia has been confirmed in a study involving nearly three million people.

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.

The study found that people sustaining a TBI were 24% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those without a history of TBI over the study period (5.3% of participants with dementia had a history of TBI vs 4.7% of participants without dementia; table 2). Traumatic brain injury is associated with increased risk of dementia, according to a study published online April 10 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

According to the study even a relatively minor knock on the head resulting in concussion can lead to a 17% risk increase.

They identified and cumulative effect, and found dementia risk rises with repeated episodes of brain injury.

For the study, the team examined 2.8 million people, and followed-up for 36 years.

A TBI is classified as a blow to the head which disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. But it would be advisable for people who had suffered a severe knock to the head - whether in a fall, vehicle accident, through contact sport, or an assault - to take extra precautions. For example, a person who sustained a TBI in their 20s was 63% more likely to develop dementia 30 years later compared to someone who did not sustain such an injury in their 20s.

"TBI was associated with an increased risk of dementia both compared with people without a history of TBI and with people with non-TBI trauma", the authors write. This could include regular exercise and avoiding other risk-boosting behaviours such as smoking, or eating and drinking too much.

The new study took account of other influences on dementia risk including diabetes, heart disease, depression and substance abuse. Five or more brain injuries, the risk is almost 3 times the risk compared to someone without a brain injury.

"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. "Our findings suggest that improved traumatic brain injury prevention programmes may have an opportunity to reduce the burden of dementia worldwide".

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