gpolit.com
gpolit.com April 21, 2018


Study Links Number, Severity of Brain Injuries to Dementia

12 April 2018, 07:09 | Darrell Baldwin

New research finds link between concussion and dementia

Concussion in 20s could increase the risk of dementia by 60 per cent, Lancet study finds

"Individuals with a history of traumatic brain injury, including those with less severe injuries have an increased risk of developing dementia, even decades after the injury", says Jesse Fann, Professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in Seattle, USA, who led the study.

'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'.

However, even a mild TBI (concussion) increased the risk by 17%.

According to the UN's World Health Organization, about 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease - the most common form with about two-thirds of cases.

Despite the size of the studies, they won't settle scientific questions - or social debate - about brain injuries from sports, war, auto crashes or domestic violence.

Researchers obtained their TBI data from the Danish National Patient Register, while information on dementia involved a combination of data from the National Patient Register, the Danish Psychiatric Central Register and the Danish National Prescription Registry. From 1999 to 2013, 4.5 percent of the patients over age 50 years developed dementia, of those, 5.3 percent had sustained at least one TBI during the observation period, which began in 1977.

Their study covers a period of 36 years. Causes include road traffic accidents, falls, sporting accidents and assaults.

"The absolute risk of dementia when a person is in their 50s is still very low". It found that people with a TBI in their 20s were about 63 per cent more likely to develop dementia 30 years later than people who didn't get a TBI in their 20s.

The idea that blows to the head suffered by boxers and footballers may increase the risk of dementia is a hotly debated issue. TBI correlated with elevated dementia risk compared to individuals with a non-TBI fracture not involving the skull or spine (hazard ratio, 1.29).

Researchers found that age plays a factor: "the younger younger a person was when sustaining a TBI, the higher the HRs [hazard ratios] for dementia when stratified by time since TBI".

"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. "But there was an increased risk", said Fann.

A report from the Associated Press notes that the Danish study aligns with findings from a study of 3.3 million people in Sweden earlier this year. "Our findings do not suggest that everyone who suffers a traumatic brain injury will go on to develop dementia in later life".



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