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Dementia Linked to Concussions Decades After Traumatic Brain Injury

You might think that getting a bump on the head during an accident is nothing to worry about, but you could have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with far reaching implications and not even know it.

The 2015 Hollywood movie “Concussion” brought visibility to the horrific effects of repetitive head trauma on athletes, and spurred the NFL and other athletic interests to take a closer look at the risks associated with contact sports.

While severe sports-related brain injuries make headlines, the little-known truth is that TBI is common, affecting 10 million people worldwide each year. In the U.S. alone, TBIs account for more than 2.5 million emergency room visits and hospital admissions annually, with the vast majority of TBIs (84 percent) resulting from falls, motor vehicle accidents, and assaults.

One likely reason there is less visibility when it comes to TBIs in the general population is because around 75 percent of brain injuries reported are considered concussions, the kind of TBI that results from a bump on the head or a whiplash-type trauma that causes your head to shake quickly back and forth. With this milder concussion, you might black out for a few quick seconds or just feel a bit dazed. In most instances you are able to resume normal functioning in a short period of time.

Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury

If you exhibit any of the symptoms of a TBI after even a seemingly mild blow to the head, it is possible that you have experienced a brain injury. These could include:

  • Headache that gets worse and does not go away
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsy appearance or cannot wake up
  • Have one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other
  • Have convulsions or seizures
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Are getting more and more confused, restless, or agitated
  • Have unusual behavior
  • Lose consciousness

Mild Concussions Linked to Dementia Later in Life

In a recent report, ABC News revealed that brain injury experts are now looking at the devastating long-term effects of all types of brain injuries, even mild concussions. Any history of TBI, regardless of severity, can significantly increase the risk of developing dementia later in life.

Swedish researchers took a look at 3.3 million people aged 50 or older and followed them for several years, isolating more than 164,000 people who had sought emergency treatment for brain injuries and/or dementia from 1964 through 2012.

The researchers found that in the first year after TBI, the risk of dementia increased four-to six-fold. And even though the risk dropped after the first year, it remained quite high. There is evidence that TBI patients are at 25 percent increased risk for dementia for 30 years or more after the injury occurred. Further, experts caution that cumulative hits to the head can cause extraordinary damage and neurodegenerative changes, even if those blows are considered on the milder side.

If you believe you might have experienced a head trauma, you should consider consulting with a Colorado Springs personal injury lawyer to make sure that your interests are protected. Call us at 719-471-3000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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