Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are an all too common result of many accidents. While traumatic brain injuries can alter lives forever, new research now points to another disturbing outcome for TBI victims. An increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is now being linked to TBI. Here’s what you need to know.
The University of California-San Francisco Study
Research scientists from UC-San Francisco conducted an in-depth study on the effects of TBI in relation to Alzheimer’s disease. The participants consisted of a large panel of older war veterans who had previously experienced TBI during their lives. The researchers found that the participants each had more than two times the risk for developing dementia, as compared to people of the same age group who had not suffered TBI.
Lead researcher Kristine Yaffe, director of the Memory Disorders Program at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, said that they were just beginning to understand how TBI truly represented an enormous risk for the development of Alzheimer’s later in life.
Yaffe and her fellow researchers were able to obtain the medical records of approximately 30,000 war veterans who participated in the study. Each was over the age of 55 and none were diagnosed with or showing signs of dementia at the beginning of the study. The only clinical difference between the veterans was that around 2 percent of them had previously suffered TBI. Of those 2 percent, each had been diagnosed with a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, a skull fracture or some form of non-specific head injury.
After the study was completed in 2007, Yaffe found that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease for those veterans who had never suffered TBI was approximately 7 percent. In stark contrast, the data showed that the risk of Alzheimer’s for those veterans diagnosed with TBI was at least 15 percent. That more than doubles the risk of dementia for TBI victims.
The Dangers of Alzheimer’s Disease
Dementia is the term that is used to describe a number of diseases affecting the brain and nervous system, including Alzheimer’s disease. The condition causes your nerve cells to die, which result in memory changes, behavior alterations and inability to mentally process information. As the condition progresses, your ability to carry out normal everyday activities declines. For example, eating, bathing, speaking and controlling bodily functions become almost impossible. The condition ultimately ends in death, as there is no cure or effective treatment.
Alzheimer’s normally strikes when you are over the age of 65 and is the sixth leading cause of death in the country. Making the statistics even grimmer, a recent study found that the medical costs associated with Alzheimer’s are now the highest of all diseases in the United States. Surpassing heart disease and cancer, it is estimated that Alzheimer’s disease costs around $157 billion to $215 billion a year. This number does not bode well for those who have suffered from a TBI, as the cost of medical treatment later in life could be astronomical.
Each year, around 1.7 million people are diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. These high numbers are mainly due to slip and fall accidents, along with automobile accidents. The cost of treating, rehabilitating and caring for the victims of traumatic brain injuries runs the United States around $30 billion annually. With research indicating that traumatic brain injury victims need to be concerned not only with immediate medical treatment, but with long-term medical treatment as well, contacting an experienced San Francisco brain injury lawyer becomes even more important after an accident.
If you or your loved one has suffered TBI or brain damage as the result of an automobile accident, slip and fall accident, motorcycle accident or other cause, it is vital that you contact a San Francisco brain injury lawyer as early as possible after the accident. The negligent party may be held responsible for the pain and suffering caused, including the expensive medical bills associated with a traumatic brain injury.
For more information about TBI or other related brain injury accidents, contact the team of San Francisco brain injury lawyer Nelson C. Barry III. We have the expertise and specialized medical knowledge required to help you obtain full, fair and just compensation.