Study Finds Old Forgotten Head Injuries the Source of Many Mental/Emotional Issues
© 2021 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
What do learning disabilities, homelessness and alcoholism have in common? They may all be related to a long-ago head injury, according to emerging research.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 5 million Americans have a mental or physical disability due to such a brain injury, however this estimate is based only on hospital admissions -- and does not take into account the countless others who did not seek medical attention.
"Unidentified traumatic brain injury is an unrecognized major source of social and vocational failure," says Wayne A. Gordon, director of the Brain Injury Research Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York in The Wall Street Journal.
According to research from Mount Sinai, about 7-8 percent of the U.S. population has some form of traumatic brain injury -- mild, moderate, or severe. Some of these head injuries may have happened long ago, and even be completely forgotten, yet could still be impacting your life.
For instance, according to various studies by Mount Sinai researchers:
A 2000 study found that people who recalled a past head injury that was followed by confusion had more than double the rate of depression and alcohol and drug abuse as those who did not. They also had increased rates of panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and suicide attempts.
What Happens to Your Brain After a Head Injury?
In the event of a closed head injury, your brain collides with your skull, bruising brain tissue and tearing blood vessels. The rapid movement of your head (such as occurs during a car crash) may also stretch or injure your neuronal axons, which are nerve cells that link parts of your brain together, and link parts of your brain to other parts of your body. Such an injury tends to impact a wide range of functioning.
In an open-head injury, such as from a bullet wound, the damage tends to be more focused on one area of the brain (although it can be more serious and diffuse, depending on the injury).
Brain injuries, whether mild or severe, all have the potential to impact the following:
Senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch)
For those who experienced a head injury long ago, researchers are realizing that the blow may long be forgotten, but the impacts could linger on.
For some, the head injury leads to irritability or depression, which turns into substance abuse. Others have a hard time juggling tasks throughout the day, and become disorganized, easily distracted or unable to hold a job.
In fact, according to the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), one study found that 40 percent of people hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury had at least one problem that still lingered one year later. Most frequently, this was:
What Can You Do?
Knowing how most head injuries occur, and what you can do to prevent them, is one of your best weapons against head injuries.
According to BIAA, the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries are:
In general, you can reduce your risk of head injury by:
Always wearing a seat belt while driving
Wearing a helmet on a motorcycle or bicycle
Always wearing the proper equipment when taking part in sports
Protecting children and the elderly from sharp furniture corners using these inexpensive corner protectors
Making sure to remove tripping hazards around your home
Mount Sinai Traumatic Brain Injury Central
Brain Injury Association of America
The Wall Street Journal