The lasting health effects of brain injury have become clear to researchers and medical professionals. A recent study published on Health Day confirms that there is likely a link between traumatic brain injury and dementia. The study was “able to point to an association,” although it could not conclusively prove cause-and-effect.
Because of the seriousness of brain injuries, it is important for victims to understand their legal rights. Top causes of brain injuries include motor vehicle collisions, sports accidents, slip and falls and violence. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help brain injury victims pursue a claim for compensation to provide for lasting care and rehabilitative needs.
Brain injury and dementia risks
The new study involved an evaluation of 190,000 veterans who were 68-years-old on average. The veterans were free of dementia. A total of 1,229 of the veterans had been diagnosed with a brain injury.
Researchers followed these veterans over a period of nine years. Among the veterans who had been diagnosed with a brain injury, 16 percent developed dementia. Among the veterans who had not been diagnosed with a brain injury, only 10 percent developed dementia.
The vets who had a brain injury generally developed dementia at an average age of 78.5 years. Among those who did not have a brain injury and who developed dementia, the problem did not set in until an average age of 81.
Researchers said: “Our results suggest that [brain injury] may increase the risk of developing dementia in older veterans, with an age of onset about two years earlier.”
Other risk factors including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and alcohol abuse, were taken into consideration when the study was performed. Even accounting for these variables, it seems clear that the brain injury played a role both in increasing the risk and in reducing the age at which dementia sets in.
Research also showed that the risk of dementia was higher in veterans who had both a brain injury and another health condition such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or cerebrovascular disease.
The study did not delve into the specific mechanisms that may have caused the increased risk of dementia. However, one potential theory is that each of the hits that the brain sustains reduces the brain’s ability to recover from the damage.
Another possible explanation for a link between a brain injury and dementia is that injury in the brain can cause a build-up of amyloid or tau. Both of these proteins are implicated in dementia and in Alzheimer’s disease.
This study is not the first to suggest that there is a potentially increased risk of dementia for people who sustain head trauma. The Alzheimer’s Association also warns that the effects of a traumatic brain injury can be lasting and permanent and may, among other things, make a person more susceptible to dementia as he ages.
Preventing head injuries is a top priority because of the lingering and indirect health consequences. Unfortunately, if an injury has occurred, victims have no option but to try to recover and ensure they have received full an fair compensation for the damage sustained.
Accident lawyers in West Palm Beach can help injury victims. Call Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today at 800-608-2965 to schedule a free consultation.