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Head injuries linked to dementia

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Brain similarities between dementia and head injury have been discovered in a joint study by Scottish and US scientists.

The researchers found large numbers of proteins in the brains of people who had recovered from a single head injury. This is typically seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study involved comparing the brain tissue, post mortem, of 39 people who had recovered from a brain injury with 47 people who had never had a brain injury. All of the people were from the west of Scotland.

The large number of proteins - referred to as “abnormalities” - were discovered in a third of those who had a head injury.

The findings followed analysis carried out by a team at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Dr William Stewart, who led the team in Glasgow, said: “We were really quite astonished to find up to a third had extensive pathology.

“The abnormalities that we saw in the brain are normally seen in people with dementia or very old people but we are seeing this in people in their 20s, 30s, 40s. The proteins are typical of those you might find in Alzheimer’s disease.”

The research is published on the website of the journal Brain Pathology.

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