A Single Concussion Can Dramatically Increase Your Chances Of Developing Dementia

Increased risk isn't the same as absolute risk, mind you, which was still generally very small. Atthapon Raksthaput/Shutterstock

Robin Andrews 12 Apr 2018, 17:57

He cautioned, however, that we still don’t know what types of head injury – such as sports-based concussions or traffic accident-related injuries, for example – can be included in this risk assessment. (It’s worth noting that contact sports are not that popular in Denmark.)

Additionally, the population studied all came from Denmark, which means the results can’t be applied to other countries with very different population groups. It's also an observational study, so no direct cause-and-effect relationships between TBIs and dementia can be definitively described.

Dementia, a chronic or progressive syndrome associated with a decline in brain functioning, has a variety of causes, including an abnormal build-up of particular proteins in the brain. Genetics and environmental factors are also thought to play a role.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, contributing to 60-70 percent of the 50 million people living today with the condition.

Although dementia is associated with aging, it’s not a normal feature of getting older. However, as people are living longer, the number of people with dementia is increasing, and 10 million more people are diagnosed with the syndrome every year.

There is no cure and limited treatment methods available – unsurprisingly, the World Health Organization has made it a public health priority.

Concussions and other TBIs have long been linked to dementia, but earlier studies have found mixed results, and their methodologies have often been flawed. This study, arguably the largest of its kind, certainly does a lot to corroborate the hypothesis, even if the underlying biological mechanisms remain somewhat elusive at present.

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