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Multiple Concussions, the Link to Dementia, and Self-Care

Concussions, even minor ones, can have lasting and significant impacts on our health. It is important to be aware of how to care for yourself if you have suffered a concussion, to help mitigate the long-term risks to brain health and well-being. 

Symptoms of concussion include headaches, fatigue, vertigo, changes in vision, irritability, sleep disturbance, emotionality, confusion, memory loss, depression and anxiety. Following a concussion, 12-44% of individuals experience some level of depression within the first three months.[1] Rest and self-care are important after experiencing a concussion. It is estimated that 10-20% of people who sustain a concussion will develop post-concussion syndrome, which means that symptoms persist beyond an expected recovery period.[2] 

Moderate exercise can assist recovery from concussion symptoms, after an initial period of rest. Exercise promotes a sense of mental and physical well-being, and can assist in managing low mood and sleep issues. Studies have shown that complete bed rest for more than a few days can cause post-concussion-like symptoms and may actually increase symptoms of concussion.[3] Gradual return to moderate physical activity can assist in recovery from concussion, and is protective against the development of depression following concussion.[4] 

Individuals who suffer multiple concussions may additionally experience interference with executive functioning and cognitive skills, including response initiation, divided attention, and concentration[5], on an ongoing basis. In fact, traumatic brain injuries may be associated with atrophic changes that are progressive in nature.[6] Some studies have shown a link between concussion and dementia. People who experienced a mild traumatic brain injury with loss of consciousness were 2.5 times more likely to develop dementia during their lifetime.[7] Repeated concussions have also been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease. The effects of multiple concussions can be cumulative. 

Knowing the risks of multiple concussion injuries allows individuals to make informed choices about participating in voluntary activities where the risk of concussion is high. If you limit your risk of exposure to concussion where possible, you decrease your risk of developing multiple traumatic brain injury symptoms and disease. 

Awareness, understanding, and reducing risk all contribute to brain health. If you do experience a concussion, work with your doctor on a recovery plan that includes your physical, mental, and psychological health. 

Advocating for Your Legal Rights  

Cases involving traumatic Acquired Brain Injuries require an experienced team that consists of both medical and legal professionals to ensure the injured person receives the treatment they need. Please contact a personal injury lawyer today for a free initial consultation by email or by phone at (519) 672-5666. In many cases, your legal fees are deferred until a settlement is reached. We welcome referrals from other lawyers. 

This article was written by member of the Personal Injury Team at McKenzie Lake. If you require assistance with a personal injury matter or wish to speak to a personal injury lawyer at McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP, please call (519) 672-5666.

There are resources available to support your recovery:

[1] Donna K. Broshek, Anthony P. De Marco & Jason R. Freeman (2015) A review of post-concussion syndrome and psychological factors associated with concussion, Brain Injury, 29:2, 228-237 

[2] Ibid 

[3] Ibid 

[4] Ibid 

[5] Grant L. Iverson, Ruben J. Echemendia, Amanda K. LaMarre, Brian L. Brooks, Michael B. Gaetz, “Possible Lingering Effects of Multiple Past Concussions”, Rehabilitation Research and Practice, vol. 2012, Article ID 316575 

[6] Supra note 1 

[7] Barnes DE, Byers AL, Gardner RC, Seal KH, Boscardin WJ, Yaffe K. Association of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury With and Without Loss of Consciousness With Dementia in US Military Veterans. JAMA Neurol. 2018;75(9):1055–1061