Health Care

Study finds dementia risk increased with brain injury

Study finds dementia risk increased with brain injury

"What surprised us was that even a single mild TBI was associated with a significantly higher risk of dementia", lead author Jesse Fann, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said in a statement.

But a single severe brain injury increased the risk of later dementia by 35 percent compared with a person who never had brain trauma.

'There are 850,000 people with dementia - this number is set to rise to 1 million by 2021 and more research is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our understanding of lifestyle factors that increase dementia risk'.

Even decades after an injury, the risk of dementia remains high.

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"While there is growing interest in the question of whether collisions in sports like rugby or football might affect dementia risk, this study only looked at head injuries that required hospital treatment and doesn't tell us anything about the impacts you'd normally expect to see on the sports field".

To address these methodological issues, Danish and American researchers identified a population-based cohort of almost 2.8 million adults to examine the long-term risk of dementia in people with a history of TBI compared to those without TBI and those with non-TBI physical trauma (fracture not involving head or spine).

There are about 10 million new dementia cases each year.

However, this study is one of the first to have a sufficient sample size and follow-up period to assess the effect of TBI in younger adults on the long-term risk of dementia.

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The leading causes traumatic brain injury are motor vehicle crashes, violence and falls. "Importantly, a person who has sustained a TBI should do what they can to prevent further TBIs as the risk of dementia increases with the number of TBIs". Every year, more than 50 million people worldwide experience a TBI, which occurs when an external force disrupts the brain's normal function. TBI correlated with elevated dementia risk compared to individuals with a non-TBI fracture not involving the skull or spine (hazard ratio, 1.29).

Of the population studied, 132,093 individuals (4·7 percent) had at least one TBI during 1977-2013, and 126,734 (4·5 percent) had incident dementia during 1999-2013.

There are nearly 350,000 hospital admissions due to brain damage in the United Kingdom per year, which comes to an average of one injury every 90 seconds.

Chesterfield's Ernie Moss is still the club's highest goalscorer, but requires round the clock care as he battles his dementia.

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Commenting on the research, University College London neurology professor Jonathan Schott said it provided "perhaps the best evidence yet that traumatic brain injury is a risk factor for dementia". His family says it is linked to his playing days.