According to a recent study, children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are much more likely to develop a moderate disability or more significant symptoms following traumatic brain injury.
Senior author of the study Dr. Stephanie Greene began the study after noting that “some children with ADHD didn’t recover as well following a traumatic brain injury.” She also noted that some of the symptoms of ADHD, such as dis-inhibited behavior and impaired memory, overlap with those from TBI, which implies the effects of TBI “may be additive to those of ADHD.”
The study, published online in the 25th edition of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, goes on to suggest that children with ADHD should be steered away from high-risk contact sports like football or basketball due to the greater chances of long-lasting brain injury.
Children with ADHD are prone to risk-taking behaviors, which put them already at a higher risk for brain injuries than the average child. Putting them within a contact sport known for brain injuries puts the children in an unnecessarily dangerous position that could be avoided by encouraging safer sports such as swimming or track.
The researchers reviewed all the medical charts of any patient at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh who had ADHD and were diagnosed with mild TBI between 2003 and 2010. Fourty-eight of those children were compared against 45 children who were diagnosed with mild TBI but did not have ADHD.
The researchers saw that a quarter of the ADHD group suffered “moderate disability” compared to only two percent of the children without ADHD. Moderate disability was defined as needing supervision or help for physical behavioral problems, or having residual problems with learning or functioning, as reported by U.S. News.