There has been growing interest among researchers, clinicians, individuals with TBI and their families about the long-term consequences of TBI. The notion that TBI is associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease is widely accepted, however, more recent research has demonstrated that the relationship between TBI and dementia is quite complex.
While some people do appear to experience accelerated cognitive decline with age, many TBI survivors remain stable or even improve over time. Scientists have achieved a greater understanding of TBI as a chronic disease process that can impact multiple body systems. This line of work has elucidated medical conditions that are common after TBI and that may be associated with dementia risk such as sleep disorders, and has highlighted mechanisms through which a TBI might contribute to neurodegenerative disease such as autonomic dysfunction.
This session will review the current state of the science on the complex relationship between TBI and neurodegeneration, and will highlight the implications of this work for clinical practice. Modifications to standard care for long-term survivors of TBI will be discussed; these include a chronic disease model for long-term medical management of TBI, approaches to screening and treating sleep disorders and autonomic dysfunction, simple behavioral approaches to maximize healthy living, and educational approaches to equip patients and their families with empirically-based knowledge.