New Study Shows that even Mild TBI is associated with Dementia
On June 14, the VA released new findings on the connection between TBI and dementia. This announcement stemmed from a 2020 study by the Kristine Yaffe Lab at the University of California and the San Francisco VA that examined the association between TBI severity, loss of consciousness, and dementia in veterans.
What is TBI?
TBI stands for Traumatic brain injury and it is a complex physiological condition that often occurs when a brain experiences trauma. TBI’s can occur during a single event (for example: during an IED blast) or over time (for example: after repetitive jolting of the neck). TBI’s can cause a wide range of physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. The current goal of researchers is to develop treatments and resources to help people regain as much of their previous cognitive ability as possible. Over the last 10 years, researchers have confirmed that moderate and severe TBI is a risk factor for dementia; however, they have been unsure about mild TBI. Moreover, they’ve been unsure if whether or not the person affected by TBA lost consciousness effects the association.
What does the study say?
This 2020 study examined not only the association between TBI severity, but also whether the loss of consciousness factor effects the relationship with dementia in veterans. This study included 178,779 veterans who were diagnosed with TBI of various levels of severity and did not already have dementia diagnosed at the start of the study. The severity of TBI was divided up into groups: the most severe level of TBI still classified as mild, mild with loss of consciousness, mild but unsure whether or not lost consciousness, and moderate or severe. This study showed that even veterans with mild TBI who did not lose consciousness have two-times more risk of developing dementia than other veterans without TBIs.
What does this mean regarding your claim?
The VA has already acknowledged that if a veteran develops dementia within 15 years of moderate or severe TBI then the VA presumes service connection. However, studies such as this leave veterans and advocates hopeful that mild TBI’s will be included in this presumption soon. Moreover, even if they’re not yet included in the presumption, studies such as this support arguments for secondary service connection.
If you’ve had a TBI and have been diagnosed with dementia consider whether you are entitled to the presumption or if you think your mild TBI secondarily caused your dementia. Veterans Help Group have been supporting veterans through the VA claim process since 1995. If you’d like additional support with your claim, please call us at 855-855-8992 or schedule an appointment on our website to connect with us.