Brain Injury Doubles Dementia Risk

Mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been linked with a doubled risk of dementia, a new study of older veterans has revealed.

The research, from a “large, respected cohort,” was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2011- and results suggested that the risk was “more than double” and “significant.” And while a large number of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced TBI, those in the general population could be subject to risk as well:

“The bottom line is that older veterans with TBI were twice as likely to develop dementia over the 7-year study,” principal investigator Kristine Yaffe, MD, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology, University of California, San Francisco, and director of the Memory Disorders Program at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, told reporters attending a press briefing here.

“[The findings] suggest TBI may predispose people to earlier manifestation of [dementia] symptoms and raises hope that treatment or rehabilitation may have a role in preventing downstream dementia,” she added.

Among the group studied, comprised of veterans over the age of 55, intracranial injury accounted for 40% of TBI diagnoses. Unspecified head injury accounted for 34%, concussion for 15%, postconcussion syndrome for 12%, and skull fracture for 5%. 6% of participants had more than one diagnosis. Yaffe suggested preventative measures and screening of individuals with a history of brain injury for dementia and cognitive function difficulties.