People with even a single concussion are more likely to develop dementia than people with no history of brain injuries, according to a University of Washington study published Tuesday in the Lancet. The highest risk of dementia was seen in the first six months after TBI (hazard ratio, 4.06), and the risk also increased with an increasing number of TBI events (hazard ratios, 1.22 to 2.83 for one TBI to five or more TBIs).
Suffering a traumatic brain injury from a blow to the head boosted dementia risk by 24 percent in a Danish study group of almost three million people, researchers said Wednesday.
Suffering a severe concussion in your twenties increases the risk of developing dementia in the next 30 years by more than two thirds, a major study has warned.
Even decades after an injury, the risk of dementia remains high. "Previous studies on war veterans with head injuries came to a similar conclusion that about its risk for dementia".
An estimated 9,000-11,000 people suffer a TBI in Ireland every year. TBI occurs when an external force such as a bump or blow to the head disrupts the normal function of the brain.
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Fann said his team's research is able to provide better evidence of a link because of the large sample size, though the study is limited because it draws on patients from a single country that's relatively ethnically homogenous.
Over 36 years, 132,093 individuals (4.7%) had at least one TBI diagnosis, most (85%) were mild in severity. But it would be advisable for people who had suffered a severe knock to the head - whether in a fall, vehicle accident, through contact sport, or an assault - to take extra precautions. The study also examined the impact of sustaining multiple separate brain injuries and the likelihood of subsequently developing dementia.
"TBI was associated with an increased risk of dementia both compared with people without a history of TBI and with people with non-TBI trauma", the authors write.
Overall, the risk of dementia was slightly higher in men who had sustained a TBI compared to women. Our analysis raises some very important issues, in particular that efforts to prevent TBI, especially in younger people, may be inadequate considering the huge and growing burden of dementia and the prevalence of TBI worldwide.
The authors note some limitations, including that the study included people taken from one country with a fairly similar ethnic population, so the findings can not be generalised to all ethnic groups in other countries. "The attributable risk of traumatic brain injury to different exposures and how these change across time needs policy attention, given it is likely that prevention of these need be considered at societal, community, and local levels".