Traumatic brain injuries up risk of dementia

HealthcareTech today      Advanced Instant Brain Injury Detecting Test Could Analyze Patient Consciousness
        By Pooja Baviskar

A study published on April 10, 2018, offers more evidence of a link between traumatic brain injuries and dementia later in life, with repeated injuries and severe ones posing the greatest danger.

Lead author Jesse Fann, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, stated: "What surprised us was that even a single mild TBI was associated with a significantly higher risk of dementia".

Professor Tara Spires-Jones, from the University of Edinburgh, said the study "strongly supports the conclusion that TBI is associated with increased risk of dementia".

The risk of dementia increased 33 per cent higher for two or three TBIs, 61 per cent higher for four TBIs, and 183 per cent higher for five or more TBIs.

Dementia, a category of brain diseases that includes Alzheimer's, affects some 47 million people worldwide - a number expected to double in the next 20 years.

According to the study authors, more than 50 million people every year experience a traumatic brain injury. Causes include road traffic accidents, falls, sporting accidents and assaults.

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A report from the Associated Press notes that the Danish study aligns with findings from a study of 3.3 million people in Sweden earlier this year.

This kind of study can't prove a cause-and-effect relationship, but researchers tried to eliminate the possible effect of age, gender, marital status and health, including depression.

A single, mild brain injury increased future dementia risk by 17 percent, Fann said.

Among the almost 2.8 million people observed, 4.7 percent had at least one TBI diagnosis. TBI correlated with elevated dementia risk compared to individuals with a non-TBI fracture not involving the skull or spine (hazard ratio, 1.29). For their first T.B.I. diagnosis, 85 percent were this mild type. For example, individuals having a TBI in their 20s were 63% more likely to develop dementia about 30 years later compared to those who didn't sustain a TBI in their 20s (overall dementia rate 0.55 per 1000 person years vs 0.34 per 1000 person-years); whereas individuals sustaining a TBI in their 30s were 37% more likely to develop dementia 30 years later compared with those without a TBI in their 30s (1.67 per 1000 person-years vs 1.22 per 1000 person-years; figure 2). Each year, there are ten million new patients. The researchers found that 4.3 percent of participants with dementia had at least one mild TBI, compared with 4 percent of those without dementia.

Researchers found that age plays a factor: "the younger younger a person was when sustaining a TBI, the higher the HRs [hazard ratios] for dementia when stratified by time since TBI".

The study is being carried out by researchers at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) at Trinity College Dublin, as part of a study in collaboration with Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh universities, Imperial College London in the United Kingdom and the Inserm Neuroscience in France.

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