THURSDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Having a traumatic brain injury at some time in your life doesn't raise the risk of dementia in old age, but it does increase the odds of re-injury, a new study finds.
"There is a lot of fear among people who have sustained a brain injury that they are going to have these horrible outcomes when they get older," said senior author Kristen Dams-O'Connor, assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
"It's not true," she said. "But we did find a risk for re-injury."
The 16-year study of more than 4,000 older adults also found that a recent traumatic brain injury with unconsciousness raised the odds of death from any cause in subsequent years.
Those at greatest risk for re-injury were people who had their brain injury after age 55, Dams-O'Connor said. "This suggests that there are some age-related biological vulnerabilities that come into play in terms of re-injury risk," she said.
Dams-O'Connor said doctors need to look out for health issues among older patients who have had a traumatic brain injury. These patients should try to avoid another head injury by watching their balance and taking care of their overall health, she said.
To investigate the consequences of a traumatic brain injury in older adults, the researchers collected data on participants in the Adult Changes in Thought study, conducted in the Seattle area between 1994 and 2010. The participants' average age was 75.
At the start of the study, which was published recently in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, none of the participants suffered from dementia. Over 16 years of follow-up, the researchers found that those who had suffered a traumatic brain injury with loss of consciousness at any time in their lives did not increase their risk for de
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