Last week, researchers from the University of California and the Memory Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco VA Medical Center presented the results of a large study of older veterans.  The study was funded by the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health.
 
The doctors reviewed the medical records of 281,540 veterans who received care at Veterans Health Administration hospitals between 1997 and 2000 and had at least one follow-up visit between 2001 and 2007. All the veterans were at least 55 years of age and none had been diagnosed with dementia at the start of the study.  
 
According to their medical records, 4,902 of the veterans included in the study had suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI.  The extent of the injury varied, ranging from mild concussions to skull fractures, but all the brain injuries occurred because of trauma, not strokes.
 
Over seven years, more than 15 percent of those who had suffered a traumatic brain injury were diagnosed with dementia.  Only seven percent of the control group were diagnosed.  This means those who had previously sustained a head injury had more than double risk of dementia than those who had not.  According to the results, the severity of the injury did not affect the odds of developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
 
Have you sustained a brain injury in an Atlanta car accident? Don't panic.  While the odds of dementia are greater for victims of brain injury, not all brain injury victims suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's. Your doctor can help evaluate your risk.
Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia
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