Mississippi residents who suffer serious head injuries in car crashes or other accidents may have a much higher risk of developing dementia later in life. That was the sobering conclusion Finnish researchers reached after studying the health care records of almost 32,000 people. After studying the data, the researchers found that people who suffer traumatic brain injuries are one and a half times more likely to develop dementia. The results of the study were published in the medical journal Neurology in May 2022.
Minor and major brain injuries
During the study, the researchers compared the outcomes of accident victims who suffered both minor and catastrophic injuries. The researchers considered brain injuries major when patients suffered from cranial bleeding and spent three or more days in hospital. Almost one in 10 of these patients went on to develop dementia. When patients were released from hospital after only one day, their injuries were considered minor and no increased dementia risk was identified.
Reducing the risk
There is no cure for dementia, so medical interventions currently focus on lifestyle modifications that seem to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. After modifying the Finnish health system data for dementia risk factors, the researchers concluded that reducing alcohol consumption and increasing daily physical activity levels have the most profound effect on reducing the onset of dementia among people who suffer traumatic brain injuries. However, the researchers are quick to admit that far more work must be done before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
The importance of prompt medical attention
Studies like this one reveal how brain injuries are often far more serious than they first appear. They also remind us why accident victims should seek medical attention after any kind of head trauma even if they feel fine. To minimize the chances of suffering serious car accident brain injuries, cyclists and motorcyclists should wear head protection at all times, and passenger vehicle occupants should fasten their seat belts before every trip.