A traumatic brain injury can impact a person's health long after the immediate symptoms have faded. More and more former professional athletes have come forward to discuss the neurological and mental health problems they've had long after their playing days were over. Families of those who passed away, such as football great Frank Gifford, have had their loved ones' brains autopsied to confirm that they did indeed suffer from the progressive brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE.
While TBIs are commonly associated with repeated head trauma experienced by athletes and with explosions and other combat-related incidents experienced by military personnel, the fact is that most TBIs are caused by other types of injuries, such as those suffered in car accidents. Therefore, it's important for everyone to understand the potential for someone who has suffered a TBI to develop neurodegenerative conditions later in life.
Research recently detailed in JAMA Neurology sheds some light on just what kind of late-in-life neurological conditions can be linked to a prior TBI and which cannot. The studies looked at data from several studies of over 7,000 elderly people. Of these, 865 reported that they had suffered at least one TBI where they lost consciousness.
Researchers looked at the correlation between those suffering from various neurodegenerative disorders and a history of TBI. They did not find a link between TBI and Alzheimer's disease. However, they did find a higher instance of Parkinson's disease, Lewy body accumulation and small strokes, which are small strokes among those who reported having a TBI.
For people who fear that a TBI may lead to Alzheimer's disease in their later years, the research offers some good news. However, the other neurodegenerative conditions where there was an apparent association found can be highly debilitating.
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a TBI, it's essential to get it diagnosed and begin the proper course of treatment immediately. If the injury was the fault of another person or entity and you take legal action, you and your attorney should work to ensure that you seek the compensation you need to heal properly and deal with any lingering effects.
Source: Medical Xpress, "Is traumatic brain injury associated with late-life neurodegenerative conditions?," July 11, 2016