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Some dementia caused by old TBIs, not Alzheimer’s

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2019 | Medical Malpractice |

Every year, millions of people in Kentucky and across the U.S. incur a traumatic brain injury. What some may not know is that TBIs are very often a factor in the later development of dementia. Sadly, many TBI-related dementia patients are misdiagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated 40% of dementia cases are due to conditions other than Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For a long time, there was no clear way to tell apart TBI-related dementias and Alzheimer’s, but a new study from UCLA may have discovered one. It’s known that MRI scans can uncover subtle abnormalities in patients with Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. Researchers, theorizing that MRIs may detect similar abnormalities in TBIs, had 40 TBI patients with memory loss undergo the scan.

They found that TBIs and Alzheimer’s affect different regions of the brain. The former cause the ventral diencephalon, linked with learning and emotions, to atrophy the most whereas the hippocampus, linked with memory and emotions, experiences the least amount of damage. With the latter, it’s the hippocampus that atrophies the most.

The average age of the 40 patients was just under 68. This makes sense in light of the CDC’s finding that the elderly, especially those aged 75 and older, see the highest rate of TBIs.

Doctors may be able to prevent misdiagnoses with an MRI, but they could be negligent in other ways, such as by failing to inquire into a patient’s previous medical history. When negligence on the doctor’s part leads to unnecessary treatments and avoidable injuries, victims may have a case under medical malpractice law. They will likely need someone to help them gather evidence against the doctor and negotiate for a settlement, and this is where an attorney comes in. Personal injury attorneys might have a network of investigators, too.