Brain Injury and Psychiatric Illness

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The National Institutes of Health in America recently published a study which found strong linkages between childhood brain injury and adult psychiatric illness. The linkages also extended to childhood brain injury and shortened lifespan. This is one of the first large studies on young people with head injury.

We have suspected for while that there are strong links between concussion and cognitive and emotional decline in the future. Now though, the links are becoming much clearer. The study has found that people who suffer brain injury before 25 are:

  • More than twice as likely to experience psychiatric illness
  • They are more than twice as likely to die before the age of 41 than those without brain injury
  • Those with head injury may complete fewer years of school
  • Those with head injury are more likely to receive a disability

Concussion is a form of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) which can occur when the head, or the body receives a blow which shakes the brain. It can also occur from physical brain injury such as an object piercing the brain. The seriousness of any TBI ranges from mild to severe. The article concluded that it is extremely important to prevent TBI in children due to the significant long term damage caused.

Helmets for cycling and sport, and seatbelts while in cars or motorcycles/ATVs prevent many injuries. Education surrounding the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up car for children with TBI were also noted as being of paramount importance.

Please remember that anyone who sustains a blow to their head may suffer from a TBI. Sitns of a TBI include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Seek medical attention immediately for anyone who you suspect may have a concussion, particularly if they are a child.