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New study suggests brain injury could lead to Alzheimer's disease


The subject of brain injury has become a frequent news topic over the last decade as the consequences of seemingly minor blows to the head have sometimes shown themselves to be debilitating and life altering. Such cases are common in contact sports and with military personnel serving in combat zones. Californians are aware that a serious brain injury can follow from even a simple concussion. Brain injury symptoms may only be evident after days or weeks, but symptoms, such as vomiting and loss of consciousness, can indicate trauma that could eventually lead to paralysis, coma or death.

A new study released by the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California in San Francisco found that military veterans with brain injuries may be more susceptible to Alzheimer's disease. The researchers reviewed the medical records of veterans ages 55 and older who were admitted for medical treatment after 2000. Researchers found that 16% of those with brain injuries were later diagnosed with dementia. Veterans with heart disease, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder were also more prone to Alzheimer's.

Experts continue their research into how brain injury might contribute to dementia. According to neurologists, everyone should protect themselves from traumatic brain injury through such devices as seatbelts and helmets. To slow down, if not prevent dementia, a person can engage in a variety of social, mental and physical activities.

Recovering from brain damage can be difficult. Usually, someone with this type of injury will need to undergo lengthy medical treatments, therapy and rehabilitation, all of which can be costly. Fortunately, an injured person may recover compensation, if the injury was a result of someone else's negligence. The injured person should consult with an experienced legal professional to discover ways in which compensation and other benefits can be obtained.

Source: USA Today, "Brain injury in veterans tied to higher Alzheimer's risk," Karen Weintraub, June 26, 2014

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