Traumatic Brain Injury Linked to Increased Dementia Risk: Study

A possible link between a traumatic brain injury and dementia has been found by researchers while studying older war veterans and football players.

The findings of the research, announced on Monday at the Alzheimer’s Association international conference in Paris, suggests that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) could double the risk of dementia later in life.

Scientists from the University of California-San Francisco looked at the medical records of about 300,000 veterans age 55 or older who had at least two medical visits within a 10 year period. They found that 2% had suffered at least one traumatic brain injury, and those who did had a 15% chance of developing dementia, compared to only a 7% chance among those who had not suffered a traumatic brain injury.

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In a similar study announced at the conference, a study of 4,000 retired National Football League (NFL) players revealed that 35 percent of those over the age of 50 had developed cognitive problems that could be considered significant.

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability world wide, with 1.4 to 1.7 million people suffering a the head injuries each year. Such brain damage often result in a victim requiring extensive medical treatment and permanent around-the-clock care.

Football players and war veterans are not the only ones who may be at risk. Motorcycle and automobile accidents account for about 20% of all traumatic brain injuries.

Researchers suggested that people who know they have had a traumatic brain injury should make sure they are carefully monitored and screened for signs of dementia as they approach old age.

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