In a new study, researchers found that brain injury can be a cause of dementia in some older adults.
With the use of MRI scans, it is possible to distinguish between memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury.
The finding is important because it could help prevent misdiagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, which can be devastating for patients and their families.
The research was conducted by a team from UCLA and Washington University in St. Louis.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that up to 40% of dementias are caused by conditions other than Alzheimer’s disease.
Previous research has shown that as many as 21% of older adults with dementia may be misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
A misdiagnosis can result in patients not receiving the appropriate treatment and prevents them from participating in clinical trials that could improve their overall care.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2.87 million Americans experienced TBI in 2014, with the rates highest for people age 75 or older.
Children age 4 and younger, and adults age 65 and older were most likely to suffer serious brain injuries after a fall.
In the study, the team examined 40 UCLA patients with an average age of just under 68, who had suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, and later developed memory problems.
The used MRIs, which can reveal subtle abnormalities in patients with neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.
Using a software program to analyze the MRI scans, the study revealed that TBI caused the most damage to a brain region known as the ventral diencephalon, with the least amount of atrophy occurring in the hippocampus.
The ventral diencephalon is linked to learning and emotions, whereas the hippocampus is involved in memory and emotions.
The hippocampus also is the region of the brain that is most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
This study offers further evidence that not all memory loss is caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
It can attribute to TBI, as well as other dementias and neurodegenerative disorders.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Somayeh Meysami, a postdoctoral clinical research fellow.
The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
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