Research suggests link between concussions and ADHD


September 3, 2015

Topic: concussions

After sustaining a concussion, people may realize they have difficulty focusing. While some doctors may claim it is temporary, recent research suggests it is not.

After sustaining a concussion, people may realize they have difficulty focusing. While some doctors may claim it is temporary, recent research suggests it is not. 

Researchers studied a significant amount of data and found that there was considerable correlation between adults who had experienced a traumatic brain injury and those with attention deficit hyperactive disorder. The findings were published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

This is not the first study of its kind. Another one found similar results in children with a history of traumatic brain injuries. These findings were very concerning for the researchers to uncover and may lead to changes in prevention and treatment methods for traumatic brain injuries.

Comparing numbers
The researchers compared data that was part of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health's Monitor, a continual telephone survey in Ontario that asks 4,000 people over the age of 18 general questions about their health. The study authors classified traumatic brain injuries as any time a person was unconscious for five minutes or more because of a direct hit. ADHD was classified through a test known as the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale or a doctor diagnosis. 

"12.5% of people who had experienced a traumatic brain injury also had ADHD symptoms."

The data showed that 12.5 percent of people who had experienced a traumatic brain injury also had ADHD symptoms. Other research has found links between people who experienced traumatic brain injuries at a young age and cognitive issues later on. 

For years, physicians have known that many people experience long-term effects from their traumatic brain injuries, even the mild ones. Some common effects include difficulty concentrating on a single task, issues with understanding new material and having a hard time focusing. People may also speak slower, need others to speak more slowly and become confused in situations more easily. These learning issues are very similar to those of ADHD. So, if a person has a history of a traumatic brain injury, even a concussion, it is possible he or she may exhibit long-term symptoms similar to ADHD. 

The researchers noted that with such a strong correlation between the two, doctors should always look at a patient's history for traumatic brain injuries if he or she is experiencing ADHD symptoms. People may also be more susceptible to issues with addiction after they sustain a concussion or traumatic brain injury. 

A rising concern
Concussions and traumatic brain injuries are becoming more common in the U.S. and throughout the world. Most traumatic brain injuries occur because of sports injuries or motor vehicle accidents. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries each year. Of that number, 75 percent are mild injuries or concussions. Children between the ages of 0 and 4, 15 and 19, and people over the age of 65 are most likely to experience a traumatic brain injury. One of the most common places people sustain concussions is in high school football, where dangerous drills can lead to head injuries. 

The researchers hope people will take more proactive measures to prevent these types of injuries that can take such a toll on a person's life and learning abilities.


Injury Prevention news & articles

More articles