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Some memory loss traced to TBIs rather than Alzheimer's

Montana residents who know someone who suffers from memory loss should know that not all such cases stem from Alzheimer's disease. Some can be the result of a traumatic brain injury from the past. A new UCLA study has found that MRI scans can be critical in distinguishing between the two causes and in thus preventing Alzheimer's misdiagnoses.

The study analyzed 40 UCLA patients who suffered a TBI before and who were experiencing memory loss. The average age of the group was just below 68. Incidentally, adults aged 65 and older, along with children aged 4 and younger, are at the highest risk for falling: a major cause of TBIs. Adults aged 75 and older see the highest rate of TBIs, according to the CDC.

MRIs were already known to reveal subtle abnormalities in patients with neurological disorders like Alzheimer's, so researchers strove to determine if MRIs can reveal such abnormalities in those who incur a TBI. It turns out that TBIs affect the ventral diencephalon (associated with learning and emotions) the most and leave the hippocampus (associated with the memory and emotions) relatively unaffected. Alzheimer's, though, affects the hippocampus the most.

Doctors can check for this useful distinction without the need for special imaging. By preventing misdiagnoses, doctors can ensure that patients get the appropriate medical treatments.

Many diagnostic errors, unfortunately, are due to negligence on the part of doctors. When doctors fail to adhere to an objective standard of care, victims may be able to file a medical malpractice claim and be reimbursed for the cost of unnecessary treatments and for the worsening of their real condition. Malpractice claims can end in some of the highest settlements in the entire personal injury field, so victims might want a lawyer to ensure that every step is correctly taken.

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