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Led by Kimberly Peterson, MS, Evidence Synthesis Program (ESP) Coordinating Center, VA Portland Health Care System, researchers reviewed the prevalence of dementia in veterans compared to civilians, and examined the link between previous traumatic brain injuries and the risk and timing of dementia onset in Veterans.
Through the research, they found that dementia rates are likely to be similar between Veterans and civilians (10.7% vs. 8.8-11.6%). However, dementia prevalence is also likely to be higher in people with a traumatic brain injury (6-16%) than in those without a TBI (3-10%).
They also found the possibility of there being a link between traumatic brain injuries and dementia. But since no studies have been made to evaluate whether dementia prevalence varied on the basis of combat deployment history or era of conflict, the evidence to sustain this claim has its limitations.
The investigators reviewed various existing trials involving dementia and traumatic brain injuries, assessed the articles for inclusion, evaluated study quality, graded strength of evidence, and extracted data.
Moreover, researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Weill Institute for Neurosciences and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System conducted an analysis in 2018 to find the risk of complications in those who suffered from concussions. Among many things, they found that veterans with moderate-to-severe TBI had a 3.77-times greater risk of dementia.
“To inform development of screening, prevention, and rehabilitation efforts, research is still needed addressing the mechanism of association and timing of dementia onset,” the study published in The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation concluded.
Though many TBI cases are caused by car accidents, many more also result from falls and being struck by objects. Objects such as bullets or shattered skull fragments can also penetrate through delicate brain tissue and cause a traumatic injury. A mild traumatic brain injury has the potential to temporarily affect a victim’s brain cells, while more serious brain injuries can result in torn tissue, bruising, bleeding, and other permanent damage.
As the name implies, a traumatic brain injury is a serious injury that interrupts normal brain functioning. The very worst TBIs may cause permanent disability or even death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.4 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury every year. About 235,000 of these incidents require hospitalization and 50,000 result in deaths.