Sustaining head injuries while young may be putting 10% of Britons at risk of a shortened life, research finds.
A large-scale study shows that even minor head injuries can have potentially serious effects in the longer term.
Individuals that play contact sports, such as football or rugby, are at a high risk of experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
A study looked at a sample size of more than a million adults under 41-years-old in Sweden, born between 1973 and 1985.
Using census statistics, researchers found that around one in ten (9.1%) people are determined to have at least one TBI that was caused by a blow to the head during their youth (under 25-years-old).
The scientists found that of those who had suffered from a TBI, 76% are more likely to qualify for disability benefits due to being unable to work, compared with people who had not experienced a head injury.
Alarmingly, individuals with a TBI are 72% more likely to die before the age of 41.
They are also twice as likely to have been hospitalised for a psychiatric condition and 58% more likely to under-achieve in education.
The types of injury considered in the study vary from a minor bump to the head – one that doesn’t involve losing consciousness – to becoming seriously injured and being hospitalised long-term to be treated for major brain damage.
To be included in the study, every patient must have experienced an “alteration of consciousness”, resulting in a hospital assessment.
Implications for sports
Designs of school playgrounds and sports safety equipment such as helmets could now be altered as a result of the research.
However, the leader of a head injury clinic at St George’s hospital in London says parents should not be overly concerned about play and sports and should balance the risks against the benefits.
Dr Peter Jenkins said: “I think with everything in life there are risks and benefits. If you look at the absolute risks, they’re not that large.
“It’s a balance decision. We need to look at both sides.”
Source: The Mirror
Date Published: September 14, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown