Veterans Are at High Risk of Dementia After Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries, Shows Study

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It’s been only a couple of weeks since researchers have found out that mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) could increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Now, a study that involves U.S. veterans found out that the TBIs can also increase the risk of dementia.

Until now, studies showed that only moderate or severe TBIs increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. People were also more likely to develop the conditions earlier. But the new study recently published in the journal JAMA Neurology suggests veterans could be affected by mild TBIs.

Veterans Have Suffered at Least One Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Iraq or Afghanistan

Researchers have collected data from medical records found in two government databases. A total of 350,000 veterans that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan with mild TBIs. Between 2001 and 2014, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) identified almost 180,000 patients with mild and severe brain injuries.

Looking at the data gathered, researchers found out that 6.1% of the veterans with traumatic brain injuries suffered from dementia at an average time of 3.6 years from their trauma. Out of all veterans, some of them had no diagnosis of a TBI. This group developed dementia at an average of 4.8 years.

The veterans from the government database were split into other groups: the ones that lost consciousness after the TBI, and the ones that remained conscious. After suffering a mild TBI, 13% of them lost consciousness for up to 30 minutes. Veterans that didn’t lose consciousness after injury were 10%. The rest of them split into two categories: 31% of the veterans had mild TBIs – but there were no medical records on losing consciousness. The rest of 46% had moderate or severe TBIs.

With 15-20% of the veterans that fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom suffering at least one mild traumatic brain injury, the veterans have a risk of dementia depending on the gravity of their injury.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere