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Head Injuries Can Lead to Dementia

Posted on April 27, 2021

New research has revealed that even a mild concussion can cause long-term damage and increase the risk of dementia. Dementia is a permanent loss of memory and cognition caused by changes in the brain. The most common type is Alzheimer’s disease. While previous studies linked brain injury with dementia in specialized populations like veterans, this was the first study to find the link in the general community.

According to the report, more than 27 million people worldwide sustain traumatic brain injuries each year. Such injuries are caused by auto accidents, falls or sports. Brain injuries occur when the soft brain jostles against hard bone, resulting in swelling and/or bleeding. The trauma doesn’t always cause an individual to black out, as milder symptoms can occur, such as short-term memory loss and confusion.

The University of Pennsylvania study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s & Dementia, tracked people ages 45-64 since 1987. Researchers analyzed data from more than 14,000 participants in four states. They tracked environmental and genetic conditions related to heart disease, but also asked participants to self-report on head injuries, including mild ones for which they did not seek treatment.

The study found that people who sustained a head injury were 25 percent more likely to develop dementia than their peers. Furthermore, those who had two or more head injuries were twice as likely to develop dementia. There was a 50 percent greater likelihood for women than men, and a 30 percent greater for white people, though researchers noted that these trends may need to be studied further. Genetics also played a role in dementia, as did vascular diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure and lifestyle choices like smoking. However, the study found 9.5 percent of all cases of dementia were attributable to head injury.

The researchers hope their study demonstrates the importance of preventing head injuries. Wearing bike helmets and car seatbelts are two recommendations. However, sometimes the injury is out of an individual’s control. If you or someone you love was injured due to someone else’s negligence, and you are looking for a top Personal Injury attorney in Philadelphia, we welcome you to contact us to discuss the details of your unique situation.