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Mild brain injuries could mean trouble later

Pennsylvania residents might like to know about a study linking brain injury, mental decline and Alzheimer's. The report published in a peer-reviewed medical journal suggests that even mild head injuries should be taken seriously as they could lead to brain diseases in those who are genetically at risk for Alzheimer's.

Those who suffer a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury face more risk for brain deterioration. This study suggests that even those who suffer a concussion, which is a mild TBI, could face higher risks when they have certain genetic qualities. Researchers studied 160 war veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq who were between the ages of 19 and 58, and many of the participants suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and mild TBI. The veterans underwent MRI scans so that the cortical brain regions that deteriorate with early stage Alzheimer's could be looked at.

Researchers also assigned a genetic risk score to each participant by looking at genotyping tests and the risk genes for Alzheimer's. People who had high genetic risk scores had reduced cortical thickness when they also had experienced concussions. This suggests that a concussion could make those already at risk for brain diseases more susceptible to these illnesses. Since a concussion can reduce cortical thickness in the areas that first weaken with Alzheimer's disease, it is important to document concussions even if the victim seems fine after a mild TBI.

As this study illustrates, injuries and illnesses can play a role in one's health years down the road. This is an important point that plaintiff's attorneys in personal injury lawsuits pursue when they are seeking compensation for a brain injury caused by the negligence of another party.

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