Trauma and Dementia

Over the past 30 years, increased evidence has linked moderate and severe traumatic brain injury to a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia or another type of dementia years after the original head injury. US male veterans with PTSD were also shown to have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another type of Dementia. Treatments for trauma induced dementia are currently being studied.

  • One study showed that older adults with a history of moderate traumatic brain injury had a 2.3 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s than seniors with no history of head injury. Those with a history of severe traumatic brain injury had a 4.5 times greater risk.
  • Mild traumatic brain injury with loss of consciousness has supportive but limited data to support Trauma Induced Dementia.
  • US Veterans with PTSD were shown to have 2 times greater risk of developing dementia. The mechanism in these cases is still unclear. Could the trauma of combat be similar to a traumatic brain injury?
  • Emerging evidence suggests that individuals who have experienced repeated traumatic brain injuries (concussions) or multiple blows to the head without loss of consciousness, such as professional athletes are at higher risk of developing a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.  This condition manifests with similar and different brain changes than Trauma Induced Dementia.
  • Some research suggests that traumatic brain injury may be more likely to cause dementia in individuals who have a variation of the APOE-4 gene. These individuals already have a two-fold chance for developing Alzheimer’s. Combined with traumatic brain injury, that increases to 10-fold.

What can be done? The increased tau proteins and beta-amyloid produced after trauma needs assistance in being cleared. Remember these are produced as a healthy response in a healthy individual. When excessive amounts are produced in trauma they can lead to cell (neuronal) death and loss of brain tissue.  For starters, these proteins repair themselves during sleep so getting 8 hours sleep is essential. Our upcoming retreat will focus on addressing the effects of trauma on the brain and treating Trauma Induced Dementia. See:

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