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A Mild Concussion Can Have Lasting Effects on Longevity and Mental Health

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A comprehensive study completed by researchers at Britain’s University of Oxford and Imperial College illustrates the lasting effects that even a mild bump on the head can have. It found that people who suffered mild concussions had shorter life spans and suffered mental health problems at a significantly higher rate than people who had not suffered concussions.

The study tracked the health of more than one million people born in Sweden since 1973 and followed them over the course of their lives. Those who had suffered a mild concussion (defined as a blow to the head that left them feeling dazed and confused), were 60 percent more likely to have died over the period than those who had not suffered concussions. And they were 91 percent more like to have been hospitalized for a psychiatric problem.

The negative effects of concussions were not limited to physical and mental health issues. They also extended into the social sphere. Those who had suffered mild concussions were 55 percent more likely to have done less well in education. They were also 52 percent more likely to have needed disability benefits. Another important finding was that people who had been injured at age 15 or older had poorer life outcomes than those who suffered concussions at a younger age.

The article in The Telegraph that discusses the study draws some important conclusions regarding care and follow up for concussion victims. The author quotes Seena Fazel, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, who cited the need for continuing observation of concussion victims over time, and that intervention should occur when the educational or health trajectory of a concussion victim begins to deviate from the norm.

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