Study: Traumatic brain injuries could lead to dementia - Fox 2 News Headlines

Study: Traumatic brain injuries could lead to dementia

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(WJBK) -  A closer look at veterans who suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, shows they may have an increased risk at developing dementia.

"Adding additional evidence that experiencing a traumatic brain injury can result in alterations in the way the brain functions," says Dr. Stephen Rao, who researches dementia at Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco studied nearly 200 thousand veterans whose average age was 68.

They found those who experienced a traumatic brain injury were 60 percent more likely to develop dementia and they were more likely to develop it two years earlier than those without TBI.

"So, presumably, many of these individuals who have been exposed to these IED's, or improvised explosive devices, have developed traumatic brain injury that then puts them at risk for developing dementia later on in life," he says.

Researchers say the findings directly link brain injuries to an increased risk of dementia. Dr. Rao agrees and says this often happens to military personnel who are exposed to explosions in the field.

TBI is often referred to as the "signature wound" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it affects up to 59 percent of troops exposed to blasts. With this knowledge maybe the troops can be monitored more closely for signs of dementia.

Complete findings for this study can be found in the online issue of the journal "Neurology."

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