TUESDAY, July 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) — People with a history of concussion may face increased risks of certain psychological and neurological conditions, a large new study suggests.
The study of more than 186,000 Canadians found that those who suffered a concussion were more likely to develop any of several conditions, including: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); depression or anxiety; Parkinson’s disease; or dementia.
Their risks were roughly 40% to 70% higher, compared to people who did not sustain a concussion during the 25-year study period.
The researchers stressed that the vast majority of people in the study — concussed or not — did not develop Parkinson’s, dementia or ADHD. Depression and anxiety disorders were more common across the board, with a higher prevalence in the concussion group.
“We’re not trying to scare people or have parents keep their kids out of sports,” said lead researcher Marc Morissette of the Pan Am Clinic Foundation in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Beyond that, the findings do not necessarily mean that concussions, per se, were to blame, said Dr. Sean Rose.
Rose, who is co-director of the Complex Concussion Clinic at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, was not involved in the study.
He said research like this can point to a correlation between concussion and later disease risks — but cannot prove cause and effect.
It’s difficult, Rose said, to account for all the other variables that could contribute to conditions like depression or dementia. And in this study, he noted, one question is: What were people’s medical diagnoses before their concussion happened?
Dr. Barry Kosofsky is a pediatric neurologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City. He agreed the findings do not prove a cause-and-effect connection.
But, he said, the key point still stands: People with a history of concussion faced heightened risks of these five conditions, for whatever reason.
“The findings are provocative,” said Kosofsky, who reviewed the results.
The study, published online July 27 in Family Medicine and Community Health, looks at an issue that is drawing growing attention: What are the long-term consequences of a blow to the head — especially repeated ones?