Patients who develop dementia after traumatic brain injury are at higher risk for death and disability

elderly man in wheelchair

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health concern that accounts for a significant proportion of deaths and disabilities each year. In addition to physical and behavioral impairments, TBI is also known to increase risk of developing degenerative neurological disorders such as dementia. Dementia, which typically causes significant declines in memory and thinking skills, can seriously interfere with a person’s daily functioning and quality of life.

To determine the health and cost burdens associated with this condition, a recent study in Taiwan examined morbidity and mortality in TBI patients with and without injury-related dementia. A research team compared medical records from 3,448 patients with TBI, half of whom developed TBI after injury and half of whom did not. They found that patients with post-traumatic dementia had higher mortality rates than patients without dementia, and that individuals older than 65 years were at highest risk for dying as a result of their injuries. Participants with injury-related dementia also required 20 more days of hospitalization and needed medical visits nearly five times more frequently than participants without dementia.

Patients who develop dementia after TBI are significantly more likely to need ongoing medical attention and intervention as a result of their injuries, compared to TBI patients who do not develop dementia. Additionally, those with post-traumatic dementia are at higher risk of mortality and other injury-related complications. As a result, there is a need for further research on the relationship between TBI and dementia, with particular attention to the health and cost implications of post-traumatic dementia for elderly populations, who are often at the highest risk for injury-related death and disability.

Harnod D, Harnod T, Lin C, & Kao C. Analyzing mortality risk and medical burden among patients with traumatic brain injury and subsequent dementia. Journal of Critical Medicine. (May 2019).

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