Could Brain Injury Increase Dementia Risk Among Older Adults?

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Brain Drawn on Black Cubes

Many questions arise about what a person’s quality of life will be like after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even neurologists cannot make a definitive prognosis for how well a person will recover after a TBI, especially many years into the future. Indeed, researchers have found a link between brain injury and an increased risk of developing dementia in later life.

One study from Umeå University in Sweden reviewed data for TBI patients and dementia patients spanning from 1964 to 2012. It was found that people with traumatic brain injuries were four to six times as likely to develop dementia as those without TBIs, usually within the first year after injury. Some brain injury patients showed a greater risk of dementia as many as 30 years post-injury.

Other research has revealed how damage from chronic blows to the head — such as those experienced by military veterans, football players, and boxers — is correlated with the development of dementia and other memory-related disorders.

Contributing Factors for TBI and Dementia

A number of factors seem to impact the likelihood of a TBI survivor developing dementia, including:

  • Age at the time of injury: People who sustain TBIs over age 55 appear more likely to develop dementia.
  • Severity of the TBI: Massive brain damage or repeated trauma is associated with an increased risk of dementia among TBI patients.

With that said, researchers emphasize that not everyone who suffers a brain injury will later develop dementia.

For example, people who carry the apolipoprotein E gene already have a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, so distinguishing how genetic factors and other individual differences could impact TBI patients and their likelihood of developing dementia is not fully understood. Despite the study’s findings, there is no absolute evidence that a brain injury patient will eventually suffer from dementia as well.

Legal Compensation After a TBI

Motor vehicle crashes and falls are leading causes of traumatic brain injury in the United States. In Michigan specifically, car accidents are responsible for 30 percent of all TBIs, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

When a TBI is the result of an accident, Michigan residents have several options depending on the type of accident that caused the injury.

Auto accident victims would first seek no-fault compensation through their car insurance company for their TBI. Because many brain injuries result in life-changing damage, it may also be possible for survivors to file a lawsuit against the responsible party if their injury meets the state’s “serious injury threshold.”

In slip and fall cases, people who suffer brain injuries may be able to file a claim if a dangerous condition on someone else’s property caused their accident. The best way to determine whether you have a case is by talking to an experienced Michigan traumatic brain injury lawyer.

Contact a Detroit TBI Lawyer at Christensen Law Now

Christensen Law is a recognized leader in brain injury litigation in Detroit. The firm’s attorneys have secured record-setting verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured Michiganders, including $17.8 million for a woman who suffered a TBI that left her unable to work or live independently.

If you suffered a traumatic brain injury in Detroit, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.