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UCLA study: old TBIs, not Alzheimer's, may cause memory loss

Not all memory loss is caused by Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that up to 40% of dementia cases are not due to Alzheimer's, and one study shows that some 21% of older adults with dementia are incorrectly diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Residents of Georgia may wonder if there's a way to prevent this confusion, and it just so happens that a new study from UCLA has lit upon one. According to a recent UCLA study, old TBIs, not Alzheimer's, may cause memory loss. 

An MRI scan can uncover abnormalities in patients with neurological disorders like Alzheimer's. Researchers, knowing that some dementia cases arise from an old traumatic brain injury, analyzed 40 TBI patients with memory loss to see if an MRI would detect similar abnormalities in them. They found through the scans that different regions of the brain are impacted by TBI and by Alzheimer's.

In TBI cases, brain atrophy was most pronounced in the ventral diencephalon, associated with learning and emotions, and least pronounced in the hippocampus, associated with memory and emotions. With Alzheimer's, it was the hippocampus that saw the greatest impact.

Measuring brain volumes like this can be done without the need for special imaging. It is a method, then, that all doctors can take advantage of in their effort to provide correct diagnoses. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Dementia patients who are misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's may undergo unnecessary medical treatments and even be injured as a result. If the diagnostic error was the result of negligence on the doctor's part, then it may be time for the victim's family to see a medical malpractice attorney. By filing a malpractice claim, the family might be reimbursed for medical expenses and other losses, but success is not assured. With a lawyer, the family may more effectively negotiate for a settlement.

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