Private Practitioner, Canada
Title: When is a head injury more than a head injury? TBI and dementia in seniors
Biography: Romeo Vitelli
Though traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been widely recognized as a leading cause of death and disability around the world, there is still considerable controversy about the potential role it plays in the development of later cognitive, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Despite this controversy, research has shown that even a single moderate to severe head injury can lead to increased amyloid-beta (A) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, two of the hallmark signs of AD. Also, a recent study looking at autopsy-confirmed dementia cases found that a substantial percentage of recorded cases have a prior history of head injury. In particular, older adults reporting a moderate to severe head injury involving loss of consciousness began showing symptoms of dementia three years earlier than participants with no history of TBI. Even when controlling for other factors such as lifetime history of depression, family history of dementia, level of education, and medical history, the link between dementia and TBI remains strong. Though more research is needed to explore the TBI-dementia link, health care and legal professionals need to be aware of the increased risk faced by older adults recovering even from accidents that may not be considered serious by objective standards.This includes the often thorny problem of proving causality in dementia cases arising from injuries sustained in slip and fall cases, automobile accidents, elder abuse, and other instances involving mild to moderate concussion. A recent case study will be presented to help demonstrate the legal and medical ramifications of dementia symptoms in a head-injured older senior.