Can a TBI Cause Dementia?

Can a TBI Cause Dementia?

The brain is a fascinating structure, the complexities of which science continues to explore. “The boss of the body,” it’s the control center for thinking, emotions, perception, learning, language, remembering, and more. Damage to this essential organ can result in an assortment of physical and psychological problems. When a sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head disrupts the brain’s functions, it is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a “traumatic brain injury” (TBI). Ranging from mild to severe, TBIs commonly arise from vehicle accidents, slips and falls, assaults, and sports.

Symptoms of a TBI are not as evident as broken bones or dislocations. They can involve vague issues such as confusion, headache, blurred vision, or slurred speech. Important to diagnose, there is increasing evidence that brain injuries can lead to degenerative brain disease later in life. In fact, a recent study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore has discovered a possible link between brain injury and dementia. Researchers there determined that microparticles found in the spinal fluid of people who have suffered a TBI are secreted by microglia in response to brain injury. Making up about 10 percent of the brain’s cells, microglia are activated immune cells whose many functions include locating injured neurons and stripping away the connection between them.

The microparticles appear to spread inflammation beyond the injury site and are also capable of activating microglia that are at rest, suggesting that once present, they could trigger further inflammation by themselves. Inflammation occurs at a cellular level and is the immune system’s response to infection, irritation, or damage. It has been linked to the degeneration of nerve cells that play a part in dementia – a condition for which there currently is no cure.

However, there is some hope. One of the study’s co-authors has already invented an agent called PEG-TB that might work against the microparticles. PEG-TB stops the microparticles’ ability to trigger inflammation by causing them to break apart. As noted by co-author Alan Faden, “it shows that in principle, the concept of neutralizing them could be effective.”

This study serves as a stark reminder that recovery from a TBI is a difficult, emotionally draining process that may never see the victim return to who they were before the injury. The long-term effects of TBIs make it crucial that those who suffer them due to another’s reckless or careless behavior enforce their legal rights.

If you have any questions about this topic, or believe that someone else’s negligence caused you or a family member to suffer a TBI, contact the Middle GA dementia attorneys of the Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Macon, we have been the trusted advocates for countless victims and their families throughout Georgia. For advice on how to proceed next, please call us at (478) 742-3381 or fill out this form today to schedule your initial consultation.