A recent study has linked a concussion at a young age to memory and thinking problems years later.
This study is significant because it involved twins who have the same genes and often have similar lifestyles, especially in their early years.
The study was conducted with World War II veterans and found that those who suffered a concussion – particularly one severe enough to render them unconscious or if they were older than 24 at the time of injury – experienced faster mental decline suffered than her twin who had suffered this I have never experienced such an injury.
The numbers and their implications
Researchers studied 8,662 male World War II veterans and asked them to complete mental agility tests over a 12-year period.
On average, they began these tests around age 67. In this group, about one in four men had a concussion at some point in their lives.
What is striking is that the twin who had a concussion generally performed worse on these mental tests than his twin who did not have a concussion.
For example, if one twin suffered a traumatic brain injury after age 24, his test score at age 70 was 0.59 points lower than that of his twin who had not suffered a similar injury. Furthermore, this difference in scores grew larger each year.
Although the difference may seem small, it could be significant when adding other factors that influence mental health, such as high blood pressure, alcohol consumption and education level.
“This could be enough to trigger an assessment for cognitive impairment,” says study author Marianne Chanti-Ketterl of Duke University.
Why this is important now
The study could be a wake-up call for parents and young adults who may be overlooking the long-term consequences of head injuries from sports or accidents.
With more people visiting emergency rooms for sports injuries between 2000 and 2020 and half a million military personnel suffering traumatic brain injuries, it is critical to understand the long-term effects of such injuries.
This research suggests that people with concussions early in life may need to be monitored for cognitive decline or possible dementia.
Limitations and Next Steps
One limitation of the study is that the concussion information was self-reported, meaning some people may not remember or accurately report their injuries.
But even with this limitation, the findings are still valuable. Future research could aim to confirm these results with medical records to achieve greater accuracy.
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