Examining the Long-term Effects of Concussion in Sport
Although 85% of the TBIs were classified as mild, the researchers said they were still likely to have been fairly serious concussions, since the symptoms were severe or persistent enough to require a hospital visit.
The study also looked at the effect that sustaining multiple separate TBIs had on dementia risk. They found that a person who had sustained one TBI was at a 22% greater risk of developing dementia after the age of 50, compared with someone who had never sustained a TBI. For someone who had sustained two injuries, this risk increased by 33% and for five or more TBIs, the risk rose by 200%.
Commenting on the study, researchers Mahmoud Maina from the University of Sussex said the findings are “truly novel due to the large sample size employed, in-depth history collected and follow-ups.”
Jonathan Schott from University College London’s Institute of Neurology said the research perhaps provides the best evidence yet that traumatic brain injury is a risk factor for dementia. However, further research is required to differentiate the types of injuries (e.g. sports-related concussion) and how they affect the brain, he added. “These uncertainties notwithstanding, this study reinforces the importance of trying to prevent injury to the brain.” A concussion can raise dementia risk even if there is no loss of consciousness
Another study published in May 2018 in JAMA Neurology suggested that concussion can increase dementia risk, even if has not caused a loss of consciousness.
Led by a team at the University of California (UCSF), the study, which included more than 350,000 US war veterans, showed that concussion without loss of consciousness was associated with a 2.4-fold increased risk for dementia.
Among those who did lose consciousness, the risk was 2.5 times higher and for those who had sustained more serious moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injuries, the risk was 3.8 times higher.
Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, Doug Brown, said that for some time dementia researchers have been fascinated by the potential link between head injuries such as concussion and the risk of developing dementia.
He points out that although JAMA Neurology study was one of the largest studies of its kind, it did only focus on US war veterans, so it is not yet clear how applicable the findings are to the public, so we do not know how relevant it is to the general public yet. more detailed studies of a wider population group would be needed to investigate and confirm the possibility that concussion doubles a person’s dementia risk. Sources
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