Study suggests traumatic brain injuries are linked to dementia

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have a lasting impact on one’s life. Our Miami personal injury law blog has discussed in previous posts how victims of motor vehicle accidents and sports-related accidents have had their lives change in one instant. Individuals who were once able to walk, brush their teeth and communicate effectively were suddenly left paralyzed, and they will most likely require assistance with everyday tasks for the rest of their lives.

A recent study suggests that not only do individuals suffer permanent damages from an initial brain injury, but they may also be at an increased risk of developing other side effects from their injuries in the future.

According to research that was presented today at the Alzheimer’s Associations annual International Conference, individuals who have been diagnosed with a TBI at any point in their lives are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to individuals who have never been diagnosed with a TBI.

The study was conducted in the United States by a group of scientists from the University of California-San Francisco. Because many war veterans have experienced a TBI, researchers examined about 300,000 medical records of veterans. All of the veterans were 55 or older, and none of the vets had been diagnosed with dementia before the study was conducted.

The study concluded that of the 2 percent of vets diagnosed with a TBI, 15 percent were more likely to develop dementia. Of the vets who had never been diagnosed with a TBI (such as a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, skull fracture or other serious head injury) only 7 percent showed an increased risk of developing dementia.

In addition to many war veterans being diagnosed with serious brain injuries, many individuals suffer a TBI after being involved in a car accident or a severe fall. More than 1.5 million people are diagnosed with a TBI each year.

Based on the study’s findings, researchers are encouraging individuals or family members of an individual who has suffered from a TBI to continue to monitor and screen for signs of dementia.


USA Today: “Traumatic brain injury doubles risk of later dementia,” Mary Brophy Marcus, 18 July 2011