New research suggests that suffering a minor head injury or concussion may increase an individual’s risk of developing certain types of brain disorders.
In findings published this week in the medical journal Family Medicine and Community Health, Canadian researchers indicate that people who suffered a blow to the head, or a typical concussion, have an increased risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and depression or anxiety.
Researchers conducted a retrospective population-based cohort study using administrative health data for the Province of Manitoba in Canada between 1990 to 1991 and 2014 to 2015.
The study included more than 180,000 Canadian residents. More than 47,000 people were diagnosed with a concussion, and were matched 3 to 1 with more than 140,000 control subjects.
According to the findings, suffering a concussion was linked to an increased risk of diagnosis for all five conditions, including ADHD, depression, mood and anxiety disorders (MADs), dementia and Parkinson’s disease (PD).
The findings indicate people who suffered a concussion had a 39% increased risk of developing ADHD, a 60% increased risk of being diagnosed with depression or anxiety, and a 70% increased risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or dementia.
Patients who suffered three or more concussions faced triple the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than those who suffered only one concussion. However, the researchers found that even one concussion could lead to increased risk for psychological and neurological conditions.
Overall, the odds of developing Parkinson’s, dementia or ADHD, after suffering a concussion were small, even with the increased risk. Depression and anxiety disorders were more common among all participants, with a higher prevalence among those in the concussion group.
This is not the first study to link concussion to mental changes. A study published in 2013 linked concussions to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of a concussion can range from headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, temporary loss of consciousness and fatigue. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to years and can lead to long-term side effects.
Other studies have shown suffering only one concussion can lead to brain damage one year after the blow to the head. More so, brain damage from even a mild concussion can be seen months after concussion symptoms have subsided.
The findings of the study may hold particular importance for children who play sports are at risk of suffering a concussion. Soccer concussions among youth have skyrocketed since 1990. Children who suffer concussions often face problems with vision, balance and sleep. It can even increase the risk of suicide later.
The study’s findings suggest they could face even more problems later in life.
“The findings from this study demonstrate an association between the occurrence of concussion and an increased risk of diagnosis of ADHD, MADs, dementia and PD later in life,” the researchers concluded. “As our results are specific to the administrative health data used for the present study, future studies exploring the relationships between concussion and ADHD, MADs, dementia and PD in other populations are warranted.”