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One Brain Injury Could Increase the Risk of Dementia Later in Life

Brain scans showing traumatic brain injuries.

Even one brain injury could raise the risk of dementia decades later, according to a new study. An article in the Financial Times cites research from the Imperial College in London, which has found that a single serious head injury could lead to brain damage even if the patient makes a full recovery in the short term.

What the Study Found

This study reportedly used a new positron emission tomography (PET) imaging technique to look at the biochemistry of 21 men and women who had suffered one traumatic brain injury through an accident or assault between 18 and 35 years previously. They were then compared with a demographically and educationally matched control group of 11 people with no history of such injury.

The results, which were published in Science Translational Medicine, showed that victims of brain injuries were much more likely to have harmful tau protein in the brain compared with the control group or the general population. According to scientists, the accumulation of tau is a crucial sign of brain damage that will likely lead to Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

Researchers say one moderate or severe brain injury could trigger this process, which could result in dementia later in life. They claim that the brain damage appears to be “dose-dependent,” which means it might result from a single severe brain injury or repeated exposure to minor brain injuries like concussions. The repeated concussions and head injuries sustained by American football players on the field have caused such brain damage.

Concussions and CTE

This study reaffirms what we know about concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people, especially football players, who’ve had a history of repetitive brain trauma. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s.

The repeated trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the buildup of tau protein. This type of brain damage has been associated with the common symptoms of CTE, such as memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, problems with impulse control, aggression, depression, suicidal ideation, and progressive dementia.

Institutions and sports teams must protect their athletes. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, don’t hesitate to get in touch with an experienced California brain injury lawyer to understand your legal rights and options.


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