Sunday, October 16, 2016

Just One Concussion

This brief story was compiled from uncredited news services in the Sunday Star Tribune's Science and Health section:

A single concussion experienced by a child or teenager may have lasting repercussions on mental health and intellectual and physical functioning throughout adulthood, according to a new study.... [Y]oung people who experienced a single diagnosed concussion were much more likely than the nation’s general population and than their own siblings to receive medical disability payments as adults.

They also were significantly more likely to have sought mental health care and much less likely to have graduated from high school or to have attended college than their uninjured brother or sister. And they were about twice as likely as siblings to die prematurely. (emphasis added)
I wish the Star Tribune reported just how much the likelihood of these negative outcomes increased, rather than using generalities like "much more" and "significantly more." Here's a lengthier story about the research from the New York Times. It may be the primary source for the Star Tribune's shortened version, but it still doesn't include the numbers in question. The Times story also included this sentence about additional effects:
The possibility of lingering physical or psychological problems during adulthood rose precipitously, the researchers found, if someone had experienced more than one concussion while young, or if his or her brain injury had been more severe than a concussion.
Again, I wish I knew what "rose precipitously" meant, but it sounds like it clearly exceeds the "twice as likely" level used for premature death.

But regardless of the exact extent of the effect, it's obvious that concussions are a serious public health concern, and it's irresponsible to structure major parts of our culture around sports that can't be played without substantial risk of head injuries.

Ahhh, here is the abstract of the report, including a few of the data tables.

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