Head injuries may trigger dementia later in life: Study

Head injuries may trigger dementia later in life: Study

Never take a head injury lightly. For, it not only carries the risk of being fatal if too serious, but may also become a cause of dementia later. According to researchers from Imperial College London, people with serious brain injury are more likely to develop dementia.

A report on dailymail.co.uk says that though previous researches found a link between head injury and dementia, they did not know the exact reason for it. Now, a recent study has found how the two are linked.

As part of the research, published in the journal Neurology, scientists studied nine patients with moderate to severe brain injuries and found that those who were severely injured had more damaged brain nerve fibers and more clumps, or plaques compared to healthy participants. It is already known that the brain of Alzheimer’s patients has clumps of beta amyloid protein.

Lead researcher Dr. Gregory Scott said, “Although patients may seem to have outwardly made a good recovery, when we see them in clinic years later they can have persistent problems which affect their daily life, for example impairments in concentration and memory.” He added that the finding can help in coming up with treatments to treat the long-term effects of head injuries in order to ward off dementia in the future.

According to a report on healthday.com, a study in 2014 suggested that older adults who suffered brain injury face a higher risk of getting dementia. “Most doctors and patients understand the importance of preventing falls in order to prevent bodily injuries. This study suggests that fall prevention may not only prevent bodily injury, but may even help prevent dementia,” said study lead author Dr. Raquel Gardner, a clinical research fellow with San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The study was published online on the JAMA Neurology.

The studies thus highlight the fact that head injuries can be damaging for the future and one should be cautious.

Understanding dementia

The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease wherein a person loses brain cells which results in brain shrinking. Dementia is also associated with diseases in which the brain cells degenerate and die more quickly. A research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Annual Conference in Washington in 2015 showed that dementia is gender specific. It said women face a higher chance of developing dementia than men and mental degeneration occurs at a faster rate in women.

According to a 2015 report of Alzheimer Disease International, dementia, which is related to memory decline, affects over 3 million people over the age of 65 in the U.S. every year. There are an estimated 47.5 million dementia patients worldwide, says medicalnewstoday.com.

Cases of dementia caused due to reaction of some medication are reversible, but certain types of dementia can be irreversible. No medication can treat or stop the progression of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in people aged 65 or older. For some, the symptoms are seen after 60 years, but in some cases, the early onset of the disease could be due to a defective gene. Huntington’s disease, an inherited illness, can also lead certain nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to waste away and this can be a reason for dementia.

Different types of dementia are:

  1. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia which happens due to brain damage or due to reduced or blocked blood flow in blood vessels going to the brain.
  2. Lewy body dementia hits approximately 10 percent people with dementia, making it one of the most common types of dementia. It becomes more common with age.
  3. Fronto-temporal dementia mostly happens at a younger age, generally between the ages of 50 and 70.

It is important to understand the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s to get the correct treatment. Proper guidance and support from experts can help in leading a happy life. Call the California Mental Health Helpline at 855-559-3923 for help in finding the best mental health treatment facility in your area.