Published: Thu, April 12, 2018
Medical | By Alyssa Little

New brain injury test could improve patient care

New brain injury test could improve patient care

Lead author Professor Jesse Fann, from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, said that "individuals with a history of traumatic brain injury, including those with less severe injuries, have an increased risk of developing dementia, even decades after the injury". For example, a person over 50 who suffered one TBI had a 22% increased risk of developing dementia, while someone who suffered four TBIs had a 61% increased risk.

A link between brain injuries and dementia has been confirmed in a study involving nearly three million people.

The study found that people sustaining a TBI were 24% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those without a history of TBI over the study period (5.3% of participants with dementia had a history of TBI vs 4.7% of participants without dementia; table 2).

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Researchers found the "fully adjusted risk of all-cause dementia in people with a history of TBI was higher than in those without a history of TBI, as was the specific risk of Alzheimer's disease".

Advanced, instant brain-injury detecting test could analyze patient consciousness along with effectively improved patient care by probing in to their central nervous system. "Making major decisions about brain injured patients rely on quick assessments and the new method gives us rapid insights into the patient's condition". Every year, more than 50 million people worldwide experience a TBI, which occurs when an external force disrupts the brain's normal function. The leading causes include falls, motor vehicle accidents and assaults.

Fann said it's important to recognize that most people who sustain a single concussion do not develop dementia. "Greater efforts to prevent TBI and identify strategies to ameliorate the risk and impact of subsequent dementia are needed".

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Overall, the risk of dementia was slightly higher in men who had sustained a TBI compared to women. TBI correlated with elevated dementia risk compared to individuals with a non-TBI fracture not involving the skull or spine (hazard ratio, 1.29).

Fann said future research trying to narrow down why some people with brain injuries get dementia while other don't is important.

The researchers note that the absolute risk remains low, but one must remain especially mindful nevertheless. One possible weakness of the study was that it looked at people from a single country with a "fairly similar ethnic population", said the authors - meaning its findings may not apply to people of other ethnic groups in other countries. "The attributable risk of traumatic brain injury to different exposures and how these change across time needs policy attention, given it is likely that prevention of these need be considered at societal, community, and local levels".

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