Dementia in Head Injury
Julia Frank, MD
Nestor Galvez-Jimenez, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Helmi L Lutsep, MD
Dementia in Head Injury Overview
Head injury occurs when an outside force hits the head hard enough to cause the brain to move violently within the skull. This force can cause shaking, twisting, bruising (contusion), or sudden change in the movement of the brain (concussion).
Damaged brain tissue does not work normally.
Even a relatively mild head injury can cause prolonged or permanent declines in cognition. (Cognition is the processes of thinking, remembering, understanding, reasoning, and communicating.) Head injury can also cause changes in emotions or behavior.
After head injury, a person may have symptoms such as changes in personality, emotional problems, and difficulty making decisions or solving problems.
Direct damage to brain tissue and surrounding areas accounts for only part of the problems in head injury. The resulting bleeding (bruising), fluid collection (hydrocephalus), and infection can also damage the brain. A common complication is epilepsy (seizures).
Dementia after head injury is a significant public health problem.
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Traumatic brain injury can lead to deficits in 5 general areas: (1) short-term memory impairment, (2) slowed processing speed, (3) impaired executive function, (4) disrupted abilities of attention and concentration (which likely contributes to the deficits noted in the first 3 categories), and (5) emotional dysregulation.