If a survey of students from Canada is accurate, traumatic brain injury may be much more of a problem than we thought. The study, published as a “research letter” in JAMA, surveyed 62% of students in grades seven through 12 via a computerized questionnaire, aiming to gauge drug and alcohol consumption patterns as well as other health-related behaviors.
The study does suggest a link between TBI and poorer grades, underage drinking, and drug use, but the most astounding data is that 1 in 5 adolescents has suffered a brain injury that results in an overnight stay in the hospital or loss of consciousness for over five minutes. More so, 5.6%, or more than 1 in 20 students, said they had suffered a brain injury within the past year.
Given what we know about the under reporting of brain injury and the statistic that less than 10 percent of all concussions result in loss of consciousness, we have some extremely troubling data on our hands. We don’t know exactly how many American children suffer brain injury every year, but close to half a million children under 15 are brought to hospitals to be assessed for brain injuries, according to the LA Times.
According to the findings of the survey, there is also a relationship between low grades and substance use and traumatic brain injury. The students who reported brain injuries were four times more likely to have a history of brain injury, and students who used alcohol were roughly twice as likely, and frequent cannabis contributed to a four times higher risk of recent TBI.
It should be noted however, these correlations do not necessarily make causation, and the researchers suggest the connections need “further investigations.”