New study finds link between TBI and dementia
July 07, 2019
A new study has found that experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI) more than doubles the risk for developing dementia later in life for veterans.
The federally funded research sought to better understand how TBI affects veterans in the long term. A connection between even mild TBIs and increased dementia risk was apparent. There was no difference between TBIs with and those without an associated loss of consciousness in terms of risk.
Traumatic brain injuries are common among veterans and a key area of focus for the VA and other veteran-centric organizations. They can be caused by a singular injury, such as an IED blast or cumulative damage to the head and neck area. Traumatic brain injuries can have deeply troubling affects for the sufferer, including physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms like headaches, memory loss and difficulty concentrating that often make day-to-day activities difficult.
Although the connection between TBIs and dementia is clear based on the research, why it exists is not. Some medical professionals hypothesize that it could be the injury itself that contributes to dementia while others think that a head trauma causes toxic proteins associated with dementia to build up in the brain.
A previous TBI is only one risk factor for dementia for older veterans. The role of genetics in the condition is also being studied heavily. Lifestyle is another probable contributor, and experts recommend implementing healthy habits such as staying physically and mentally active and monitoring heart health.
Older veterans are encouraged to get regular checkups with their medical provider in order to monitor for any signs of dementia.