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Young Veterans With Mild TBI Show Premature Cognitive Aging

In young veterans with traumatic brain injury, performance on some cognitive tests similar to that of older adults with early Parkinson disease

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Subtle, subclinical cognitive problems observed in specific cognitive domains in young veterans with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) are similar to those seen in patients with early-stage Parkinson disease (PD) who are decades older, according to a study published online Nov. 17 in PLOS ONE.

Vicki A. Nejtek, Ph.D., from University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, and colleagues compared age- and IQ-matched veterans with and without mTBI, nonveteran healthy controls, and IQ-matched nondemented early-stage PD patients to assess specific cognitive domains most involved with mTBI-related PD onset. The analysis included 114 individuals.

The researchers found that groups differed on cognitive tests. Veterans with mTBI performed worse than matched-control groups on four out of eight cognitive tests according to post hoc tests; they also more often than not performed comparably to patients with early-stage PD.

“We found subtle, premature cognitive decline occurring in very specific cognitive domains in veterans [with] mTBI that would typically be overlooked in a clinic setting,” the authors write. “This result potentially puts them at risk for continual cognitive decline that may portend to the eventual onset of PD or some other neurodegenerative disease.”

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