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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