Exploring possible links between TBI and Alzheimer’s

A study recently published in the journal Neurology suggests that certain kinds of head trauma mirrors the kind of grey matter changes which occur in the early stages of Alzheimer’s development. Whether this parallel means that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) cause Alzheimer’s or simply alter the brain in similar ways has yet to be determined.

Experts at the Pittsburgh School of Medicine studied this potential link between TBI and Alzheimer’s and created the piece published in Neurology. Their work will almost certainly inspire future studies that could ultimately impact the ways in which medical professionals diagnose, treat and prevent both TBI and Alzheimer’s. These developments could, in turn, dramatically impact the lives of accident victims and Alzheimer’s patients.

The study’s lead author recently explained why the discovery of this potential link is so critical. He noted that, “Traditionally, it has been believed that patients with mild TBI have symptoms because of abnormalities secondary to direct injury. Our preliminary findings suggest that the initial traumatic event that caused the concussion acts as a trigger for a sequence of degenerative changes in the brain that result in patient symptoms and that may be potentially prevented.”

To say that the brain is a complex system is to oversimplify and understate. One really cannot overstate how complex the brain is. As a result, it can be uniquely challenging to prevent, diagnose and treat brain conditions. Over the past several years, high-profile TBI awareness stories have emerged from the world of sports, in politics and in media coverage of accident victims. As the American public becomes increasingly aware of how serious TBI is, professionals scramble to unravel the mysteries of these injuries.

The potential link between TBI and Alzheimer’s will hopefully empower a greater understanding of both of these conditions within the medical community and the public as a whole, as well as inspire research that may help to improve the lives of accident victims and Alzheimer’s patients everywhere.

Source: Med Page Today, “Concussion, TBI, Alzheimer’s: Is There a Link?” Charlene Laino, June 20, 2013

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