Head injuries may lead to brain-related diseases

Kevin Magna

July 19, 2011

Head trauma can increase an individuals risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia, according to recent studies. The Alzheimer's Association states that MCI can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

"In many cases it may be possible to protect against [head injury] by buckling your seat belt, wearing your helmet and 'fall-proofing' your home," said William Thies, the chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer's Association.

However, a senior alert system can be useful as well, as accidents can still happen. A medical alert will be sent out, should an older adult injure themselves.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco recently examined the prevalence of dementia in veterans who were 55 years of age and older. They found that individuals who had suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) had a 15.3 percent chance of developing dementia, while those who did not have a TBI only had a 6.8 percent risk.

Athletes are susceptible to head injuries as well, and scientists at the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago studied the impact of TBIs on retired athletes over the age of 50. They observed that 35 percent of participants showed possible signs of dementia, while the average is 13 percent. 

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