Considerable opportunity exists to improve interventions and outcomes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in older adults, according to three studies published in the recent online issue of NeuroRehabilitation by researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
•An Exploration of Clinical Dementia Phenotypes Among Individuals With and Without Traumatic Brain Injury
Some evidence suggests that a history of TBI is associated with an increased risk of dementia later in life, but the clinical features of dementia associated with TBI have not been well investigated. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine as well as other institutions analyzed data from elderly individuals with dementia with and without a history of TBI to characterize the clinical profiles of patients with post-TBI dementia.
The results of the study indicate that compared to older adults with dementia with no history of TBI, those with a history of TBI had higher fluency and verbal memory scores and later onset of decline. However, their general health was worse, they were more likely to have received medical attention for depression, and were more likely to have a gait disorder, falls, and motor slowness. These findings suggest that dementia among individuals with a history of TBI may represent a unique clinical phenotype that is distinct from that seen among elderly individuals who develop dementia without a history of TBI.
"Our study indicates that individuals with dementia and without a history of TBI may present clinical characteristics that differ in subtle but meaningful ways," said Kristen Dams-O'Connor, PhD, first author of the study and an Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "It is imperative that clinicians take a history of TBI into account when making dementia diagnoses."
For this study, researchers used data from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) Uniform Data Set (UDS) collected between September 2005 and May 2012 to analyze 332 elderly individuals with dementia and a history of TBI and 664 elderly individuals without dementia who do have a history of TBI. Statistical analyses focused on evaluating differences in the areas of neurocognitive functioning, psychiatric functioning, medical history and health, clinical characteristics of dementia, and dementia diagnosis using data collected at the baseline (first) NACC study visit.
•Mortality of Elderly Individuals with TBI in the First 5 Years Following Injury
After observing a high rate of mortality among patients over the age of 55 in the first five years after sustaining a TBI, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai were interested in learning more about the precise causes for what may be considered a premature death.
The results of this study indicate that for approximately a third of the patients, death one to five years after TBI resulted from health conditions that were present at the time of injury before the onset of TBI, suggesting a continuation of an already ongoing process. The remainder of patients died from conditions that appeared to unfold in the years after injury. According to the authors, each cause of death in this sample would have required pro-active medical management, medical intervention and medication compliance.
"Like those with other chronic health conditions, individuals with TBI could benefit from the development of a disease management model of primary care," said one of the study authors, Wayne Gordon, PhD, Jack Nash Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Chief of the Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology service. "This study suggests that close medical management and lifestyle interventions may help to prevent premature death among elderly survivors of TBI in the future."