Brain injuries in an accident often have long-term consequences. But can a brain injury in an accident cause dementia later on? Scientific studies say “yes.” People who suffer serious brain injuries have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Signs of dementia can show up days, years, or even decades following an injury.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research shows that people who experience severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are 4.5 times more likely to develop dementia than those who have never had head injuries. Some studies have also linked moderate traumatic brain injuries to an increased risk of dementia. Researchers, though, do not believe that one-time mild brain injuries cause dementia. That is good news for people in accidents whose head injuries are not as severe.
What Are Signs of Dementia following a Brain Injury?
Some of the possible signs of dementia following a brain injury include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unclear thinking
- Slowed thought processes
- Poor hygiene
- A change in behavior
- Mood swings
- Frustration and irritability
There may be other symptoms as well. After an accident in which you hit your head, always get checked out by a doctor, even if you don’t think you were hurt. If your loved one was in an accident, had a head injury, and begins showing any of these signs, seek medical guidance.
How Do Brain Injuries Cause Dementia?
Medical experts believe that brain injuries can cause chemical changes in the brain. These chemical changes can possibly lead to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Some studies show a higher likelihood of dementia from head injuries based on certain genetic variations in some people. Not everyone who experiences a severe or moderate head injury will get dementia. But for some people, a head injury can increase the risk.
What Kinds of Accidents Cause Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Brain injuries can result from blows to the head, the head being shaken quickly back and forth, and objects piercing the skull. Accidents that most commonly cause TBIs include:
- Falls: Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries overall.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Crashes involving trucks, cars, motorcycles, or pedestrians often lead to TBIs.
- Sporting accidents: Falls and crashes when playing football, bicycling, skateboarding, or other sports can cause brain injuries, especially when helmets aren’t used.
If you’ve been in any kind of an accident and hit your head, or if your head was violently shaken, be sure to see a doctor.
How Do I Know if I Have a Moderate or Severe Head Injury that Could Cause Dementia?
These symptoms of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury may show up within hours or days of your accident:
- Bad headache that doesn’t go away or keeps getting worse
- Nausea and repeated vomiting
- Losing consciousness
- Dilated pupils
- Seizures or convulsions
- Severe dizziness or loss of coordination
- Numb toes and fingers
- Liquids draining from ears or nose
- Extreme confusion
- Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Anxiety or agitation
- Inability to wake up or coma.
If you or your loved one shows any of these symptoms after a head injury, get emergency medical help right away.
Is There a Way to Weaken the Link Between Head Injury and Dementia?
Unfortunately, as the Alzheimer’s Association says on its website, “there’s no known strategy to reduce the possible long-term risk of dementia once you’ve experienced a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury.”
While this isn’t good news for people who have experienced a serious head injury, as mentioned before, not everyone who has a head injury develops dementia. Many people who experience severe brain injuries never get it.
The risks go up based on the location of the head injury, the severity of the injury, and the person’s age. The well-regarded Mayo Clinic notes that the risks are higher for people age 55 and older who experience a traumatic head injury.
Sadly, for those who do get dementia, in addition to the high physical and emotional price they pay, the financial costs are also high.
Medical Care Is Expensive – Where Can I Get Help with Costs after an Accident?
Statistics show that memory care costs for dementia patients average nearly $5,000 a month in Texas. Dementia care over a person’s lifetime can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. These costs are in addition to other medical treatments and losses you may experience in an accident.
If you believe that someone else caused the accident that hurt you through their careless behavior, you may be able to file a legal claim against them. If it can be proven that their negligent actions caused your accident, you could get compensation for your current and future medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Who Can Be Held Liable for an Accident?
Following are just a few examples of how negligent parties can cause accidents that lead to head injuries:
- A grocery store neglects to mop up a spill they have been told about. A customer slips, falls, and hits their head.
- A distracted driver runs a red light and plows into another car. The driver of the car that was hit strikes their head on the steering wheel or dash.
- A worker climbs up on a ladder. The defective ladder collapses and the worker falls and hits their head on the ground.
In these cases, the store owner or manager, the negligent driver, and the ladder manufacturer may be held liable for injuries.
An experienced attorney can advise you about who you may be able to sue for a serious head injury in an accident based on the details of your case.
Get Help from Our Experienced Brain Injury Lawyers
Even if you don’t have signs of dementia, if you’ve had a serious brain injury, your medical and other bills are probably stacking up. We sincerely hope you won’t face dementia in the future. But with studies making a connection between traumatic brain injury and dementia, it makes sense to get as much compensation as you can to help with possible future care. Call our law firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation at (713) 973-8888, or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.