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New brain injury test could improve patient care


In the largest study of its kind, researchers have found that traumatic brain injury is associated with an increased risk of dementia. "And the relationship between the number of traumatic brain injuries and risk of dementia was very clear.similarly, a single severe brain injury seems to have twice the risk associated with dementia as a single mild traumatic brain injury".

Scientists know that a blow to the head can damage brain cells, but they don't know exactly how that might lead to later cognitive problems, said lead researcher Dr. Jesse Fann of University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

The researchers reviewed the history of approximately 2.8 million cases in Denmark and found that the overall risk of dementia for those with a history of dementia was 24 percent higher than those without a history of brain injuries, after accounting for other risk factors for the disease.

Dr Carol Routledge, director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "This well-conducted study adds significant weight to previous evidence of a link between head injury and an increased risk of dementia". Even compared to that group, the TBI group had higher risk for dementia.

"Making major decisions about brain injured patients relies on quick assessments and the new method gives us rapid insights into the patient's condition". Every year, more than 50 million people worldwide experience a TBI, which occurs when an external force disrupts the brain's normal function.

In a separate project, Irish researchers are now looking to recruit 100 adults - without dementia or any form of significant cognitive difficulty - for a large scale study which hopes to identify early signs of dementia years before memory loss and confusion develop.

Читайте также: Mark Zuckerberg Brings Apology Tour to Congress

A traumatic brain injury can be caused by a fall, a traffic accident, a sports accident or a violent attack.

They found 132,093 people had a TBI at some point between 1977-2013, and 126,734 were diagnosed with a form of dementia between 1999 and 2013. For example, a person who sustained a TBI in their 20s was 63% more likely to develop dementia 30 years later compared to someone who did not sustain such an injury in their 20s.

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.

Importantly, the younger the individual sustaining a TBI the higher the risk of subsequent dementia, when taking time since TBI into account.

"However, it's important to emphasize that although the relative risk of dementia is increased after traumatic brain injury, the absolute risk increase is low", Fann noted in a journal news release.

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