Medical News for Durham Residents: Concussions Can Increase Your Risk of Dementia

March 21, 2017

Dementia can be caused by many factors. One of the strongest environmental risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease is moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. It is unclear whether mild traumatic brain injury or concussion increase the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases. Concussions have been found to amplify cognitive decline especially in those patients who have genetic links to the disease.

Researchers using MRI imaging measured the thickness of the cerebral cortex to find which section might show significant atrophy. They found that those with concussions had lower cortical thickness in the brain regions first to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that when they combined genetic factors with concussions, there was accelerated cortical thickness and memory decline in those brain areas. These findings support early intervention even when someone might have their “bell rung”. When combined with genetic factors, the concussion might have long-term side effects and health consequences. Treatments may one day be possible for preventing or delaying the onset of dementia.
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