Mild brain injuries linked to higher risk of dementia in older adults

For adults over the age of 55, even mild and moderate brain injuries may raise the risk of dementia, along with various other adverse complications.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) often have complicated and devastating effects, as some people know firsthand. This holds true regardless of the circumstances or the victim's age. However, new research suggests that, like other injuries, TBIs may become much more harmful with age. In older adults, even a mild traumatic brain injury may significantly raise the risk of dementia.

Severe health risks

According to HealthDay, the study followed over 52,000 older adults who sought emergency care in 2005 or 2006. Researchers followed these patients, who were all at least 55 years old when they suffered injuries, for five years. The researchers found that dementia rates varied significantly between patients who suffered brain injuries and patients who sustained other traumatic injuries.

Over 8 percent of the brain injury victims developed dementia, compared to slightly less than 6 percent of the other patients. In other words, the patients who sustained brain injuries were more than 33 percent likelier to later develop dementia. Researchers identified the following risk factors for dementia among these patients:

  • Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury - this was associated with a greater risk of dementia in patients over the age of 55.
  • Mild traumatic brain injury - for patients over the age of 65, even mild brain injury was correlated with a higher likelihood of dementia.
  • Multiple brain injuries - brain injury victims who suffered more than one TBI were twice as likely to develop dementia.

Other TBI consequences

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that TBIs can have numerous long-term consequences that can be difficult to initially predict. These injuries may give rise to epilepsy, and they are associated with a greater risk of degenerative brain disorders. They also can cause changes to a person's logical, emotional and sensory capabilities. Even a mild traumatic brain injury can have severe impacts.

After a TBI, some victims may suffer from issues with reasoning, memory, decision-making, comprehension or self-expression. Some people experience sensory changes or impaired physical control of their bodies. Adverse mood shifts and behavioral changes are also common outcomes of brain injuries. Often, these lingering effects can harmfully affect a person's relationships, career and general well-being.

Recourse for wrongful TBIs

The CDC states that the leading causes of TBIs are falls, incidents where people are struck by objects, car accidents and assaults. Consequently, many TBI victims may suffer injuries in situations that arise because of the careless actions of others. If TBI victims can prove that another party was at fault, they may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and emotional suffering.

It is imperative that TBI victims receive appropriate compensation for the permanent impairments and potential complications that they face. To improve the likelihood of a favorable outcome, victims may benefit from seeking the assistance of a personal injury attorney. An attorney may be able to help a victim properly document the injury and pursue the full amount of compensation that is available.

Keywords: TBI, brain, injury, accident