Do Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries Double the Risk of Dementia?
Two large epidemiological studies recently reported that even mild traumatic brain injuries bump up a person’s risk of developing neurodegenerative disease. Now another study weighs in. Researchers led by Deborah Barnes and Kristine Yaffe at the University of California San Francisco analyzed data from 357,558 veterans, half of whom had a traumatic brain injury. As reported in the May 7 JAMA Neurology, mild TBIs doubled their risk of dementia, and more severe TBIs nearly quadrupled it. These are much higher odds than other studies have reported, and notably, for many mild TBIs there was no loss of consciousness. It is unclear if these findings will generalize to the civilian population; Yaffe noted that veterans may have other risk factors and co-morbidities that place them at higher risk for dementia. In addition, many veterans suffer multiple head impacts. Nonetheless, the data raise concerns about long-term effects of brain injury, she said. “From a public health point of view, we need to try to prevent TBI, particularly multiple TBIs,” Yaffe told Alzforum.
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