Two recent studies have linked head injuries to dementia and show that such injuries may make the brain more likely to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Veterans Face Increased Risk
One study examined the effects of traumatic brain injury on military veterans, and the other looked at professional football players. Both groups have received increased attention lately as a growing body of evidence links traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – even mild TBIs – to serious long-term consequences.
Researchers analyzed the medical records of 280,000 veterans, aged 55 or older, for diagnoses of TBI and dementia within a seven-year time span. They found that older veterans who had suffered a TBI were twice as likely to develop dementia during those seven years.
According to the Department of Defense, incidents of TBI amongst members of the military tripled between 2000 and 2010, with blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) being responsible for most of these.
Athletes and CTE
The second study assessed current professional football players for signs of increased future risk of dementia or similar neurological and cognitive issues. Concussion experienced by athletes, especially repeated concussion, is increasingly being blamed for a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The symptoms of CTE, such as memory loss and cognitive problems, are similar to dementia and give credibility to claims that link dementia with TBI.
TBI, Alzheimer’s and Amyloids
Affecting approximately 5.4 million Americans, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common causes of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, a nonprofit working to combat the disease. Alzheimer’s is thought to be caused by an excess of naturally occurring proteins called amyloids. Amyloids are insoluble, fibrous proteins which researchers think disrupt healthy tissue, including brain cells. It is this disruption that causes Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Ongoing research suggests that TBIs cause an increase in amyloid production in the brain, sometimes within hours of the injury.
Dementia does not discriminate. Although members of the military and athletes are among those facing an increased risk, any form of TBI can be potentially damaging enough to cause serious long-term mental or memory-related issues. If you have suffered a TBI because of another person or entity’s actions, you deserve compensation. Please contact us for a free consultation. Our attorneys specialize in brain-related injuries and will help you determine the best course of action for your claim.