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Moderate to severe TBI in middle age may raise dementia risk

Many Northern Virginians suffer blows to the head in a variety of circumstances - automobile collisions, work accidents and falls at home, to name a few. One consequence of a blow to the head is a traumatic brain injury. A new study has found a potential link between moderate to severe TBI and dementia later in life.

TBI is defined as a blow, bump or jolt to the head that causes physical damage to the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013 TBI was involved in 2.5 million emergency room visits and 282,000 hospitalizations. Several studies have found a link between TBI and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, but a recent study in Finland has investigated the causal effect of TBI on three disorders, dementia, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ("Lou Gehrig's disease").

The study reviewed data from 40,639 Finnish adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who had been hospitalized for mild or moderate TBI between 1986 and 2014. Researchers then examined the medical histories of these persons for occurrences of dementia, ALS or Parkinson's disease later in life. The data showed that 3.5% of persons who suffered moderate to severe TBI were diagnosed with dementia, compared with only 1.6% who suffered only mild TBI. In other words, persons who suffered moderate to severe TBI were 90% more likely than sufferers of mild TBI to develop dementia. The study also found that middle-aged men had the highest risk for developing dementia after suffering moderate to severe TBI. The authors of the study did not attempt to identify the physiological connection between TBI and dementia, but they concluded that their data demonstrated a need for long term care and observation for victims of moderate to severe TBI.

Persons who have received a diagnosis of TBI in connection with a blow to the head may have a legal claim against anyone whose negligence caused the injury or against their employer under Virginia's worker's compensation law. A visit with an experienced personal injury lawyer may provide several helpful insights about the likelihood of recovering damages for such an injury.

Source: Medical News Today, "TBI in middle age may raise dementia risk," Honor Whiteman, July 6, 2017

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