New Research: Suffering Brain Injury more than Doubles Risk of Developing Dementia

View all news posts

A large study of older war veterans suggests those who experienced traumatic brain injury during their lives had more than two times the risk of developing dementia, scientists from the University of California-San Francisco have found.

“We’re now getting a much better understanding that head injury is an important risk factor for developing dementia down the road,” lead researcher Kristine Yaffe, director of the Memory Disorders Program at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, told USA Today.

Yaffe and colleagues looked at medical records of nearly 300,000 veterans, all 55 or older. None had dementia at the study’s start. About 2% had had a TBI. All had at least one inpatient or outpatient visit between 1997 and 2000 and a follow-up sometime between 2001 and 2007, the paper reported.

A diagnosis of a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, a skull fracture or some non-specific head injuries are considered TBIs.

The risk of dementia was 15% in those with a TBI diagnosis, compared with almost 7% in those who had never had a TBI, Yaffe says.

Researchers presented their findings today at the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual International Conference in Paris.

Other studies have shown that TBI can increase the risk of dementia: It might hit earlier, and symptoms could worsen, says Douglas Smith, professor of neurosurgery and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

About 1.7 million people experience a TBI each year, mostly because of falls and car accidents. TBI also is referred to as the “signature wound” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where TBI accounts for 22% of casualties overall and 59% of blast-related injuries, Yaffe says.

Smith says that with so many soldiers returning from war affected by blasts, the relationship between TBI and dementia needs to be sorted out.

It’s unknown at this point how many soldiers have a history of brain injury, he says. “I’m even worried for people psychologically. People worry a lot about, ‘Am I going to get Alzheimer’s disease?’”

Yaffe says more research is needed to explore whether early rehabilitation can help reduce the risk for dementia. “If you know you’ve had a head injury and you are approaching older age, one has to be carefully monitored and screened for cognitive dementia.”

Attorneys at Ross Feller Casey, LLP have a remarkable track record of winning verdicts and settlements involving brain injuries.

They include:

  • $13 million for a man who suffered a brain injury as a result of a truck accident
  • $12 million for a boy who was left brain damaged after error during heart surgery
  • $10 million for a boy who went into anaphylactic shock, resulting in brain injury as a result of an allergic reaction to peanuts.

To learn more, click Brain Injuries

Disclaimer - Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.


  • NBC
  • CNN
  • ABC
  • CBS
  • AP
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer

Contact us for an initial consultation

If you would like a member of our staff to contact you for a free initial consultation on your case, please complete this form, or call us toll-free at 215-515-4401.

Please include your name
Please include a valid email
Please include your phone number
Please include a message
Ross Feller Casey, LLP One Liberty Place 1650 Market St, 34th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19103

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Because every case is different, the description of awards and cases previously handled do not guarantee a similar outcome in current or future cases.

Copyright © 2018 Ross Feller Casey, LLP. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Policy