A recent study done by the VA (including 178,779 Veterans in the VA health care system) found that patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have a heightened risk of developing dementia. The study found even mild TBI (without loss of consciousness) was associated with more than a two-fold increase in the risk of developing dementia. TBI among Veterans is a key focus area of VA physical and mental health care as well as research to unravel the intricacies of TBI’s symptoms and effects. While scientists have confirmed that TBI can be a risk factor for dementia, they have yet to determine why.
TBI can be difficult to diagnose because it has many causes, such as motor vehicle collisions, sports-related injuries and falls. Among Veterans, TBI may be caused by a single event, such as an IED blast, but also may occur over time as a result of repetitive jolts to the head or neck. During a TBI evaluation, you and your doctor will discuss what caused your injury and ways to deal with any physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating and headaches. You also will explore how these symptoms affect your daily life. Your doctor may recommend counseling to help you learn ways to manage the effects of TBI. Because a TBI can affect the way the brain functions, medications may be needed or changed to assist in recovery and coping.
To learn more about TBI symptoms and treatment for Veterans, visit VA’s mental health page on TBI or go to MakeTheConnection.net, which features videos of Veterans talking about their experience with TBI.