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Major Traumatic Brain Injury Can Raise Dementia Risk

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Patients hospitalized for major traumatic brain injury (TBI) were at higher risk for incident dementia, according to the authors of a recently published longitudinal, population-based study.

Investigators in Finland gathered various data collected between 1992 and 2012 on patients age 25 to 64. They were searching for those who had sustained a major TBI (defined as brain bleeding and a hospital stay three days or longer) or a minor TBI (defined as a concussion diagnosis and a hospital stay one day or shorter).

Out of thousands of patients, the researchers found 288 who had been hospitalized with a major TBI and 406 who were hospitalized with a minor TBI who did not have dementia within one year of their injury. Over an average 16-year follow-up period, of those with a major TBI, 27 patients developed dementia. Of those with a minor TBI, nine developed dementia.

Importantly, after the authors adjusted for dementia risk factors, such as smoking use, education level, high blood pressure, alcohol consumption, and physical activity levels, the association was weaker.

“Approximately one in 10 people in our study who had major TBI did develop dementia,” said study author Rahul Raj, MD, PhD, of the University of Helsinki in Finland. “Considering that there is no cure for dementia or TBI, the results of our study suggest that prevention of other dementia risk factors, such as excess alcohol consumption and physical inactivity, could possibly reduce the risk of dementia in people with major TBI. More research is needed in larger groups of people.”

May is National Trauma Awareness Month. The American Trauma Society and the Society of Trauma Nurses announced the theme this year is “Safe Surroundings: Preventing Violence and Promoting Peace Community by Community.” The groups have put an emphasis on four areas: intimate partner violence, firearm injury prevention, mental health awareness, and community violence intervention.

For more on TBI, dementia, and other related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Neurology Alert and Trauma Reports.