Am I at Risk for Dementia or Permanent Brain Damage due to the Injury?
There has been a great deal of media attention recently regarding the long-term consequences of sports-related head injuries, suggesting that concussion(s) might lead to dementia.
It is understandable that you might feel worried about the long-term effects of a concussion, especially when you are experiencing problems with your memory and concentration.
Despite the overwhelming amount of news articles on this topic, there is no clear scientific evidence of a connection between (repeated) brain injuries and dementia. In fact, a recent study shows that head injury is not a risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease at all.
A condition that is also frequently mentioned in the media, is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is thought to be a neurodegenerative illness associated with head injury. However, to date it is unknown how common CTE is, what it is exactly and whether it is an illness at all.
That being said, it is very common for people with a mild head injury to experience difficulties remembering and concentrating. These are not signs of brain damage. Unlike dementia, where symptoms get worse over time, cognitive symptoms after a head injury usually get better over time.
"Here’s What We Don’t Know About Concussion And Sport" - A Buzzfeed article by Tom Chivers describing the current evidence on the relationship between head injuries from contact sports and dementia.
"Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Contact Sports: A Systematic Review of All Reported Pathological Cases" - A recent scientific review article on CTE, published in the scientific journal 'Plos One'.
Does a head injury increase the risk of dementia? In this video dr. Alan Carson puts recent news articles on this topic in perspective.