September 26, 2019, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
Research continues to confirm what many healthcare professionals have suspected for a while that even one brain injury increases the risk of developing dementia decades later. This is not good news for many of us who have had mild brain injury (concussion) or major brain injury. Many of us will have received a concussion while playing sports in our youth, or later in car accidents or workplace injuries. A leading source of brain injury is assault and those victims may suffer twice from another’s thoughtless act of violence.
We know that immediately following a head injury people may suffer symptoms that are similar to those seen in dementia patients. These include confusion, memory loss, altered speech, personality and vision problems. Post head injury these symptoms may resolve, however some last for a lengthy period and for some people they never go away. It is also well established that repeated concussions cause more damage, more easily, and that the symptoms last much longer with each progressive injury.
In Alzheimer’s disease these same symptoms begin to appear gradually and continue to worsen with time.
Recent research now leads us to believe that there are certain kinds of head injuries that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other dementia decades after the initial injury. It appears that many factors impact whether the head injury will progress to dementia. These include the severity of the injury to the brain and the age at which the injury was sustained. More severe brain injuries are more strongly linked to dementia.
The older one is when the damage occurs seems to make a difference as well. Sustaining a head injury as you age, especially after the age of 55 is linked to an increased risk. Those who suffered repeated brain injuries are also more likely to develop dementia.
Underlying all of this is the genetic factor. If you carry one of the apolipoprotein E gene, then your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is greater.
All of this underpins why continued research into the prevention, fast diagnosis and immediate treatment of traumatic brain injuries is crucial.
If you or someone you know has taken a blow to the head and is showing signs of concussion, then it is imperative to seek emergency medical care immediately. Concussion can lead to death. Rowan’s Law now has a concussion Awareness Resource webpage. Here are the guidelines for what to do.
Call 911 if the person is unconscious, has lost consciousness or had a seizure.
If they are conscious:
- visit an emergency room or primary care provider, such as your family doctor or nurse practitioner
- contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 to get health advice or information
Look out for signs of a concussion in others. Symptoms may appear immediately or be felt days after an injury, especially in children and the elderly. If symptoms appear or persist, visit a physician or nurse practitioner.
This page is not intended to provide medical advice. For emergencies, please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital or emergency department. For advice on health care for concussion symptoms, please consult with a physician or nurse practitioner.
A concussion is a brain injury. It can’t be seen on X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. It may affect the way a person thinks, feels and acts.
Any blow to the head, face or neck may cause a concussion. A concussion may also be caused by a blow to the body if the force of the blow causes the brain to move around inside the skull. A concussion can happen to anyone – anywhere – including:
- at home, school or your workplace
- following a car, bike or pedestrian accident
- from participating in games, sports or other physical activity
A concussion is a serious injury. While the effects are typically short-term, a concussion can lead to long-lasting symptoms and even long-term effects.
There are many signs and symptoms of a concussion to look out for, including:
- ringing in the ears
- memory loss
- light sensitivity
If you notice signs of a concussion in others, or experience any of these symptoms yourself, consult with a physician or nurse practitioner.