People with Alzheimer’s disease are 30% more likely to experience head injuries and 50% more likely to experience traumatic brain injuries than those who don’t have the disease, a recent study from University of Eastern Finland shows.
This is the first study that has assessed the incidence of head and traumatic brain injuries among people with Alzheimer’s. Falls are the most common cause of head injuries in older adults, and those with Alzheimer’s are known to have a higher risk of falling. The findings of this study highlight the importance of fall prevention, as head injuries can shorten the life expectancy and deteriorate functional capacity. When people with Alzheimer’s experience head injuries, this can dramatically reduce their ability to perform daily tasks and live independently, even at early stages of the disease.
The study included all ‘community-dwelling’ people who received an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis in Finland between 2005 and 2011. From the overall cohort, 67,172 persons without a previous head injury were selected for the study. For comparison, a matching person with neither Alzheimer’s disease nor a previous head injury was identified with respect to age, sex and university hospital district.