"And the relationship between the number of traumatic brain injuries and risk of dementia was very clear.Similiarly, a single severe brain injury seems to have twice the risk associated with dementia as a single mild traumatic brain injury".
The authors found that someone with one TBI had a risk of developing dementia after age 50 that was 22 per cent higher than someone with no diagnosed brain injury, this was 33 per cent higher with two TBIs or 200 per cent higher with five or more.
Jesse R. Fann, M.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues examined the correlation between TBI and subsequent long-term dementia risk in a nationwide population-based observational cohort study.
After adjusting for medical, neurological and psychiatric illnesses, they found that compared with people who had never had a T.B.I., those who had had any were at a 24 percent increased risk for dementia, and those who had had five or more had almost triple the risk.
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Traumatic brain injury caused by an accident or a blow to the head increases the risk of dementia according to a recently published study. Even compared to that group, the TBI group had higher risk for dementia. "Previous studies on war veterans with head injuries came to a similar conclusion that about its risk for dementia".
The data only includes injuries where patients sought hospital or emergency room treatment for a head injury, not injuries where people either did not seek care or went to a doctor's office.
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. Of those, 5.3 percent had sustained at least one TBI during the observation period, which began in 1977. But it would be advisable for people who had suffered a severe knock to the head - whether in a fall, auto accident, through contact sport, or an assault - to take extra precautions. But he said the findings might lead people with TBI histories to change their behaviors toward other potential risk factors for dementia, such as limiting alcohol and tobacco use, engaging in regular exercise, preventing obesity, and treating hypertension, diabetes, and depression.
Importantly, the younger the individual sustaining a TBI the higher the risk of subsequent dementia, when taking time since TBI into account.
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The findings also show that men with a history of TBI had a slightly higher risk of developing dementia than women.
The association between TBI and dementia held true even when comparing people with a history of TBI to those with non-TBI fractures not involving the skull or spine.
Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Carol Brayne from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK says, "Now we need to tease out what is happening in terms of TBI, wider spectrum exposures, and how these occur across different ages, by gender, and also by community within societies".
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