Concussions and Dementia: Is There a Silver Bullet Against Cognitive Decline After a Brain Injury?

By Garrett Bussiere

Concussions happen. Sometimes they are the result of pure negligence and high-risk behavior ­–think backflip gone wrong or parkour fail gif.

Other times they happen despite having taken every precaution imaginable all the while maintaining vigilance — think Joey bubble wrap gif.

And still other times they occur completely randomly — think reporter hit by rolling ball gif.

But the inconvenient reality is that they happen, at increasing frequencies, and their impact can be felt in both the near and long-term.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year 1.5 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are sustained in the United States alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports upwards of 69 million TBIs worldwide annually calling brain injury a “critical public health problem that deserves the attention of world health communities.” The emergent problem, though, may be much greater and pervasive than what is being reported.

As many brain injury sufferers and their loved ones well know, concussions come packaged with many different short-term physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms lasting between several weeks and several years; some remaining symptomatic throughout the lifespan. It is well established that the length of recovery depends on many different factors including genetics, lifestyle decisions, and subsequent physical and emotional traumas. Less known, and less understood, is the link between concussions and the development of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia later in life.

A recent study by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) showed that a single concussion – without loss of consciousness – caused over a twofold increase in the likelihood of developing dementia. With many theories swirling as to the cause of this increase – from plaque accumulation to accelerated aging processes to impaired brain waste removal – one thing is certain: the three-pound, mystical mass of wonder suspended vulnerably within your unforgiving skull protected only by a thin and unfortified clear fluid is NOT equipped to withstand much force.

With concussion rates on the rise and their ties to dementia increasingly conclusive, understanding one’s cognitive health is of chief importance in combating neurodegeneration. The single greatest weapon in the fight against dementia is early detection. Historically, comprehensive cognitive screens were only administered by a licensed neuropsychologist with wait times in the months and costs in the thousands.

Now, with digital technologies like Savonix Mobile, over a dozen cognitive domains – like processing speed, executive function, and working memory – can be assessed and analyzed immediately at a fraction of the price of traditional testing methods. This means that critical decisions regarding your brain health can be made faster and more accurately, potentially staving off or altogether reversing the detrimental effects of cognitive impairment.

If you’ve had a concussion or TBI, are concerned about your current or future brain health, or want to introduce Savonix Mobile to your provider and are interested in learning more, please visit www.savonix.com/about and subscribe to our blog.

Here are some useful links for more information:

https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html
https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/pubs/tbi_report_to_congress.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29701556
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/2679879

About Garrett: With a professional background spanning neurodiagnostic, neuroscientific research, and biomedicine, Garrett has channeled his passion for neuroscience to expand the accessibility of critical health information and data to increase diagnostic accuracy and improve patient outcomes.