New Study Finds Concussion Increases the Risk of Dementia
Concussions have been linked to an increased risk of potentially-serious side-effects in recent years. A new study warns concussion increases the risk of dementia.
Researchers from UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System found the chances of developing dementia more than double even when the victim does not lose consciousness.
The study looked at the fortunes of more than 350,000 war veterans. It’s also relevant to those who suffer a head injury in an automobile crash, a slip-and-fall or an injury during competitive sports.
A concussion is also known as a mild traumatic brain injury. Although the term appears to downplay the seriousness of the injury, a mild traumatic brain injury can have very serious consequences for an accident victim.
The researchers reported their findings in this month’s JAMA Neurology journal.
After adjusting the results for sex, age, race, education and other health conditions, they found that concussion without a loss of consciousness led to 2.36 times the risk of dementia. These risks were elevated for people who lost consciousness to 2.51 timesand were nearly four times higher (3.77) for veterans with more serious moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury.
Concussion Increases the Risk of Dementia in the General Population
These findings are significant because they go beyond the military population. Researchers considered two databases. One of them listed veterans of all eras whose traumatic brain injuries, including concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries, may have occurred during military or civilian life. The second considered veterans serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most of these war injuries occurred in combat zones and were the result of shockwaves from explosions.
Deborah Barnes, PhD, MPH, professor in the UCSF departments of psychiatry, and epidemiology and biostatistics said:
“The findings in both groups were similar, indicating that concussions occurring in combat areas were as likely to be linked to dementia as those concussions affecting the general population.”
The research followed participants study for an average of 4.2 years; 91 percent of the study were male and 72 percent were white. The researchers found a link to the trauma associated with a concussion and the development of neurodegenerative conditions.
One theory is that brain injury induces or speeds up the accumulation of abnormal proteins that lead to neuronal death associated with dementia-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Concussions in professional and college athletes have been linked to a serious condition in which abnormal proteins build up.
One of the largest studies on the link between concussions in football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) published in 2017 found 110 out of 111 deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disorder associated with repetitive brain trauma.
Several studies linked CTE to dementia, suicidal behavior, and declines in memory, as well as mood swings. Professional athletes are believed to be at higher risk for CTE because of the high likelihood of suffering concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. As many as 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur every year the United States.
The National Football League acknowledged the link between football and CTE for the first time in 2016.
In a study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers looked at the brains of 202 deceased athletes who played football at various levels ranging from high school to the NFL.
The brains of the athletes were donated to a brain bank at Boston University for further research. The researchers looked at the brains for signs of CTE and interviewed family members about the players’ histories.
The research suggested CTE was present in 87 percent of the players. Among the 111 NFL players, 99 percent had CTE.
This is an extremely alarming statistic. The new study provides further evidence that concussion increases the risk of dementia.
This is highly relevant to people who suffer a blow to the head in a car, truck or motorcycle accident or during falls caused by the fault of another. Even a concussion, a mild traumatic brain injury that does not involve a loss of consciousness may have an extremely detrimental impact on the future of the victim.
It’s important that a client who has suffered a concussion makes a claim for damages that reflect complications he or she may suffer in the future. Please contact our Virginia personal injury lawyers if you suffered a head injury in an accident.