Science

Traumatic brain injury affects 20 percent of school-going kids: Study

By Enozia Vakil , Jun 27, 2013 10:38 AM EDT
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One in every 5 young students in Ontario may have suffered a traumatic brain injury at least once during their lifetime, researchers from St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, claim through their new study.

These statistics are thought to be much higher than presumed, the researchers explained.

Traumatic brain injuries such as concussions, which leave the patient unconscious and may require an overnight stay, are increasing in number in school-going kids.

The study further revealed that males were much likely to get affected by these brain injuries than females, owing to their active participation in sports like ice hockey and soccer, which made up for more than half of the traumatic brain injuries.

The researchers made use of data from the responses of over 9000 students belonging to grade 7 to 12 in public schools in Ontario. This study was the first to take in all self-reported traumatic brain injuries into consideration.

The results obtained from this survey revealed that around 20 percent of students in Ontario had suffered from some form of traumatic brain injury once during their lifetime. Around 5.6 percent of them had suffered this injury in the past 12 months.

Dr Gabriela Ilie, a post-doctoral fellow at the St Michael's Hospital and lead author of the study, emphasized on how traumatic brain injuries were getting more common in students.

The researchers also speculate that a number of injuries taken into consideration may be less than the injures that may have actually occurred, since there may be students who may not have reported their injuries to parents, teachers and coaches.

"Early research has indicated that there may be links between TBIs and mental health and substance use during adolescence - we plan to study this in the near future," senior scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Dr Robert Mann, explained.

Around 46.9 percent of traumatic brain injuries reported in females and 63.5 percent in males occurred due to participation in sports such as skate boarding, hockey etc.

Alcohol consumption has also been linked to an increase in the risk of suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

"Traumatic brain injury is preventable," Dr. Ilie explained. "If we know who is more vulnerable, when and how these injuries are occurring, we can talk to students, coaches, and parents about it. We can take preventive action and find viable solutions to reduce their occurrence and long-term effects."

The study is published in the Journal of American Medical Association.

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