The Chart: Local Health and Science News You Missed This Week

A nursing strike looms, Massachusetts spends a lot on healthcare, and more.

Welcome to the Chart, a weekly series that briefs you on interesting happenings in the local health, science, and research scene. Here’s what you missed this week: 

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Does brain injury cause cognitive decline?

Traumatic brain injury seems like a logical precursor to Alzheimer’s and dementia. But a new study from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) suggests that may not be the case.

BUSM researchers studied 432 healthy people and 274 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, assessing their cognitive function, genes, and histories of traumatic brain injury. Though they expected to see a relationship between past head traumas and cognitive decline, corresponding author Robert Stern says the team “found no significant difference between the groups.” A prior study from BUSM, however, found that concussions may accelerate Alzheimer’s progression for those who are already genetically predisposed to getting the disease. Learn more about the new research here.

Massachusetts’ healthcare spending is way above average.

A Massachusetts Health Policy Commission analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reveals just how much the Bay State spends on healthcare.

The report examines per capita health spending by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers from 2010 to 2014. While Massachusetts didn’t spend the most on healthcare in 2014—that title went to Alaska—per person health spending here reached $10,559, topping the national average by 31 percent. That said, spending in the Commonwealth is growing at a slower rate than almost every other state, rising by only 2.3 percent between 2009 and 2014. See the full analysis here.

Tufts Medical Center scrambles to avoid a strike.

Tufts Medical Center nurses are planning to strike on July 12, unless the nurses’ union can reach an agreement with hospital administrators. Another bargaining session—one of more than 30 held over the past year—is reportedly scheduled for Friday. If negotiations fail, Tufts is planning to lock out nurses for four days beyond the 24-hour labor stoppage.