Cognitive brain injuries are some of the most widespread and serious harms that befall senior residents–millions of Americans are affected. These injuries refer to conditions like Alzheimer’s and other dementia which interfere with mental cognition. As most are aware, those with Alzheimer’s face many different challenges with memory issues, problem solving challenges, and other difficulties which affect their ability to live on their own. Unfortunately, there is no cure for these conditions and treatments are limited. As a degenerative condition, those with these brain injuries usually discover the problem and then wait as the injury expands over a period of months and years.
Understanding the Cause
One of the main problems in identifying ways to treat cognitive brain injuries is the current lack of understanding on their origin. After all, it is hard to prevent an injury (or treat it), if the reason it develops is unknown. However, researchers have been diligently working on this problem for years and more information is emerging.
In the past, most thought that Alzheimer’s and similar injuries were connected to the build-up of amyloid brain plaques. But a new study is leading many to question that previous assessment. As explained in a recent Science Daily report, researchers from UC Davis published findings which suggests vascular brain injuries may ultimately lead to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
As explained in the project published in the latest edition of JAMA Neurology journal, the researchers examined over five dozens individuals between the ages of 63 and 90. Each subject was measured to categorize cognitive ability on things like memory tests, organizing, and problem solving. The results were then compared with information about the individual’s vascular brain injury and the existence of amyloid plaques.
They found that the vascular injuries correlated much more strongly with the cognitive brain impairment than the existence of amyloid brain plaques. In practical terms, this means that controlling blood pressure, preventing strokes, and preserving vascular health may go a long way to minimizing one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the future.
Long Road Ahead
While this latest effort is a helpful addition to the growing cache of information about these troubling brain injuries, it is more of a launching point than a definitive conclusion of anything. Researchers point out that they hope this study acts as a spur so that doctors begin to consider if vascular brain injury does indicate signs of Alzheimer’s in patients as opposed to amyloid brain plaques.
It will take many more research efforts, trials, and tests before we are close to completely understanding these serious cognitive issues and the ways to treat it. Until that time comes, it is important for local residents to ensure senior friends and loved ones with cognitive brain injuries are taken care of properly. Far too often these individuals face neglect and mistreatment. Whether a loved is in a nursing home, receiving care at home, or in some other setting, be sure to keep a close eye on them and be prepared to act fast if signs of abuse or harm are spotted.
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