The Link Between Traumatic Brain Injuries and Alzheimer’s Disease
What do concussions and Alzheimer’s disease have in common? The connection between these two health conditions might be stronger than you think.
What do Brain Injuries and Alzheimer’s Disease Have in Common?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that causes brain degeneration, leading to issues with memory and other critical mental functions. It is a form of dementia which primarily affects older adults, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, though certain treatments may slow the progression.
Concussions, on the other hand, are a type of brain injury. A concussion occurs when the brain knocks around inside of the skull following a sudden blow or jolt, like the impact of a car accident. While they are caused by a variety of personal injury matters, from car accidents to assault, concussions are also commonly seen in athletes, particularly football players and boxers. Any person can suffer a concussion, but because of their association with sports, concussions often affect younger people.
Following a concussion, someone might display symptoms similar to the symptoms of a degenerative condition like Alzheimer’s. This includes confusion, disorientation, and difficulty with communicating, thinking, or remembering. In many cases, these symptoms go away within a few days. When this happens, it’s assumed that the concussed person is totally recovered.
The Link Between Concussions and Alzheimer’s Disease
According to recent studies, however, this might not be the case. Concussions might actually lead to an increased risk of certain degenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
One study found that older adults with a history of moderate brain injuries had a risk of developing Alzheimer’s that was 2.3 times higher than the risk for older adults without a history of head injuries. For those with a history of severe TBIs, their risk was 4.5 times greater. This could be the result of a concussion’s impact on brain chemistry. When the brain suffers from an injury, it leads to a protein abnormality in the brain. This leads to a buildup of the tau protein. When too much tau builds up, it damages cells within the brain, leading to memory issues and other diminished functions. Since even a minor brain injury causes chemical changes in the brain, this suggests that minor head trauma, if suffered repeatedly, can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and similar diseases.
Another study suggests that this link between concussions and Alzheimer’s is greater in certain individuals. If someone has a variation of the specific apolipoprotein E (APOE-e4), they might be at an increased risk after a brain injury. According to this study, the risk is high for those with APOE-e4 variations, but not as high for anyone else.
Avoiding Long-term Consequences
While the results of these studies may vary, they all give an important warning about brain injuries. They show that there is a still a lot to learn about the longtime consequences of concussions and other brain injuries, and that we concussions should not be overlooked. No matter the long-term impact, concussions are something you want to avoid!
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.