Traumatic brain injuries can range in severity from a mild concussion to a significant brain injury, UBC says. (Shutterstock)

People who have suffered a traumatic brain injury are at a higher risk of developing dementia, but new research from the University of Alberta shows a way to delay the disease.

A team of U of A biologists say that preventing seizures is the key and can improve people's quality of life in the short and long term.

“Dementia is devastating for patients and families, and it is growing in prevalence in our aging demographics,” professor and co-author Ted Allison said in a written release. “These findings open the exciting possibility of refining the anti-epileptic treatments to be a prevention not only of seizures, but also dementia.”

The results came from the researchers' work with animal models and zebrafish. They plan to continue their research and refine their approach.

"We are excited to see that our research and the tools we developed resolved some of the mystery around the link between traumatic brain injury and dementia,” lead author Hadeel Alyenbaawi said. “Our data regarding post-traumatic seizure could also help further investigation into promising preventive measures of these incurable diseases.”

Blocking seizures after a head injury could slow or prevent the onset of dementia, according to new research by U of A biologists: https://t.co/aLp1Uml09H #UAlberta #BrainInjury #TBI #dementia pic.twitter.com/UnFxGEIp38

— University of Alberta (@UAlberta) February 2, 2021

More than 432,000 people over the age of 65 currently live with dementia, according to the federal government.

The study was published in eLife and is available online.