Even mild traumatic brain injuries early in a person’s life can have profound long-term effects according to a new study published in the journal PLOS Medicine. The report says children who experience traumatic brain injuries (TBI), including mild TBI, are significantly more likely to develop long-term psychological and social problems.
The study, led by Seena Fazel of the University of Oxford, evaluated over 100,000 children and adolescents from Sweden born between 1973 and 1985 and who had sustained at least one TBI before the age of 25. These participants and their uninjured siblings were then followed and compared until the age of 41.
“We found TBI consistently predicted later risk of premature mortality, psychiatric inpatient admission, psychiatric outpatient visits, disability pension, welfare recipiency, and low educational attainment,” wrote Fazel in the report. “The effects were stronger for those with greater injury severity, recurrence, and older age at first injury.”
While the risk for severe long-term impairment from traumatic brain injury is relatively low, these findings show that not all brain injuries heal quickly or without complications. A significant number of people who experience concussions struggle with symptoms for long after their injury.