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How MRIs can tell TBI-related dementia from Alzheimer's

Many dementia patients in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. are incorrectly thought to have Alzheimer's disease. One study says that around 21% of older adults with dementia are misdiagnosed this way, but the Alzheimer's Association estimates that 40% of dementias are due to other conditions than Alzheimer's. One of those conditions is a traumatic brain injury suffered earlier in life.

A UCLA study has found a way to tell apart TBI-related dementia and Alzheimer's using nothing more than a simple MRI scan. Researchers, hoping that an MRI, which can detect subtle abnormalities in those with neurological disorders like Alzheimer's, would do the same for a TBI, had 40 TBI patients with memory loss undergo the scan. They discovered a difference in how Alzheimer's and TBIs affect the brain.

In Alzheimer's patients, the hippocampus, known for its role in regulating memory and emotions, experienced the most atrophy. In TBI patients, the hippocampus actually saw the least amount of atrophy; it was the ventral diencephalon, associated with emotions and learning, that incurred the most damage.

No special types of imaging are required to discern the pattern. Using this method, doctors can more accurately diagnose their dementia patients. This will allow the TBI patients to receive the right treatment and undergo clinical trials that can help improve their overall medical care.

When diagnostic errors contribute to a patient's worsened condition through unnecessary treatments, then they may pave the way for a medical malpractice claim. It must be proven that the doctor, in committing the error, failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care. There must also be proof of a preexisting doctor-patient relationship. To see if their case is a valid one, victims may want to meet with an attorney.

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