A New Way to Recover From a Concussion and Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

Donald Redelmeier, MD
Sunnybrook Research Institute (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Year Awarded:
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July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019
Alzheimer's Disease
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This grant is made possible by a bequest from the Lillian H. Reeves Annuity.

Donald Redelmeier, MD

Statins and Long-Term Risk of Dementia after Concussion


Concussion affects about one million North Americans each year, disproportionately involving people over age 65 years (seniors). Alzheimer’s disease is a potential long-term consequence of concussion in seniors, and strategies to prevent such subsequent disorders are a priority for research. Recent studies suggest that statins (cholesterol lowering medications) have protective effects that might prevent short-term complications of concussion by reducing brain swelling, preserving blood flow, lessening inflammation, and preventing cell death. We propose a computerized study linking multiple healthcare databases (anticipated sample size = 30,000, median follow-up duration = 10 years) to test whether statin treatment might decrease the risk of subsequent dementia in seniors following a concussion.


We hypothesize that statins might lower the risk of dementia after a concussion. We are conducting a population-based study linking multiple healthcare databases to test whether statin treatment is associated with a decreased risk of subsequent dementia among seniors following a concussion. The study population consists of senior adults diagnosed with an acute concussion in Ontario, Canada. Our primary outcome is the incidence of subsequent dementia over a ten-year median follow-up. Our pilot data suggest that statin medications might be associated with a statistically significant and clinically meaningful reduction in the subsequent risk of dementia following a concussion. 

If successful, this study may identify a new strategy for preventing neurodegenerative disorders in seniors after a concussion.

About the Researcher

Donald Redelmeier, MD, serves as the Canada Research Chair in Medical Decision Sciences; professor of medicine at the University of Toronto; director of Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; and a senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Dr. Redelmeier has published over 200 articles in the scientific literature, emphasizing medical decision science and the epidemiology of trauma. The current project represents a further investigation along the same theme, addressing the late consequences of brain injury on Alzheimer’s disease and the potential protective benefits of statins in improving brain recovery after a concussion. 

"I am a physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Canada’s largest trauma center. My team has helped save the lives of many patients following a traffic crash, major fall, athletic injury, or other blunt trauma. With follow-up, however, I realize that many lives do not return to normal, particularly if the patient is older and suffered a concussion. The change in health can be remarkable, such as one patient transformed from a robust energetic retiree who bicycled daily to a depressed fragile senior unable to play cards. The intent of my research is to find ways to help older patients recover from a concussion."


Redelmeier DA, Manzoor F, Thiruchelvam D. Association Between Statin Use and Risk of Dementia After a Concussion. JAMA Neurol. 2019 May 20. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.1148. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31107515; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6537780 PubMed Icon Google Scholar Icon

Redelmeier DA, Manzoor F, Thiruchelvam D. Association Between Statin Use and Risk of Dementia After a Concussion. JAMA Neurol. 2019 May 20. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.1148. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31107515< PubMed Icon Google Scholar Icon

Redelmeier DA, Detsky AS. Clinical Action against Drunk Driving. PLoS Med. 2017 Feb 14;14(2):e1002231. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002231. PubMed Icon Google Scholar Icon

Redelmeier DA, Naqib F, Thiruchelvam D, R Barrett JF. Motor vehicle crashes during pregnancy and cerebral palsy during infancy: a longitudinal cohort analysis. BMJ Open. 2016 Sep 20;6(9):e011972. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011972. PubMed PMID: 27650764. PubMed Icon Google Scholar Icon  

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