A recent study has shown that a concussion can significantly reduce a person's life span. It can also place a person at a greater risk for psychiatric problems.
The study, conducted by researchers at Britain's University of Oxford and Imperial College, examined more than a million people in Sweden born since 1973. It documented the effect that mild and severe brain injuries had on their mental health, education and life spans.
Compared to people who did not suffer brain injuries, those suffering even a mild concussion were:
- 60 percent more likely to have died during the study period
- 91 percent more likely to have been hospitalized for a psychiatric condition
- 55 percent more likely to have done less well in school
- 52 percent more likely to have needed disability benefits
The study also showed that the more severe the brain injury, the worse the outcome. Those with the most severe brain injuries were more than twice as likely to need hospitalization for psychiatric problems and tended to die earlier than those who suffered mild concussions.
The article in The Telegraph newspaper that dicusses the study quotes Professor Seena Fazel, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford, as saying:
"We know that at the time there are the external forces are changing the structure of the brain. You can see it twisting and turning inside of the brain and that can cause all kind of damage. Stretching and damage to the nerve cells themselves. It does change levels of neurotransmitters."
The authors of the study stress the need for early interventions and follow up medical care for people who have suffered any type of brain injury.