The short-term effects of a traumatic brain injury are fairly well understood. Headaches, nausea, memory loss, confusion, and vision issues are all well-documented symptoms of a concussion or TBI that typically fade within weeks of the injury.
But, what happens after these symptoms fade?
Common knowledge suggests that once the symptoms of a concussion are gone, a person is “recovered”. However, little is known about what the long-term effects of a concussion are.
In a study presented this week at the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Psychiatrists in Las Vegas, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s attempted to finally uncover answers for this question with a long-term study that followed people who had experienced a concussion for an average of seven years after injury.
According to the findings, individuals who experienced mild to moderate brain injuries may be two times as likely to develop attention problems following their injury, with those who experienced the most severe injuries being five times more likely to develop secondary ADHD.
The report also says family environment following the injury can have large effect on the later development of these attention issues. They say children with severe TBI who have optimal home environments were likely to show few long-term effects from their injuries, while those from disadvantaged or chaotic households were more likely to report persistent problems down the road.
Despite this information, the researchers were sure to emphasize that many children with moderate to severe injuries have good long-term outcomes with few to no deficits.
The team plans to continue their study by examining how genetics may fit into the equation of determining who sees long-term deficits following a concussion. They say they believe family functioning, parenting practices, home environment, socioeconomic status, and genetics are all part of a complex puzzle that ultimately determine the long-term outcome of moderate to severe brain injury patients.