A new study by the researchers of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) has found that at least one-third of children and teenagers develop a mental health issue after a concussion, persisting for several years after injury.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggested that mental health should be evaluated as part of standard pediatric concussion assessment and management, according to Science Daily.
The researchers reviewed 69 articles published from 1980 to June 2020, involving nearly 90,000 children, aged 0-18 years, who had a concussion.
They found that more than 36% of the children experienced significantly high levels of withdrawal, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while 20% of them had problems such as aggression, attention problems, and hyperactivity.
MCRI researcher Alice Gornall said some children experienced persisting symptoms for several years after an injury but there have been significant improvements in mental health among those aged between three and six months.
Gornall explained that concussion was a growing public health concern with one-third of children experiencing a head injury before 13 years of age.
She said, “Despite the high incidence of concussion among children and adolescents, identifying those at risk of ongoing difficulties after concussion remains a prominent challenge for clinicians. On top of this, children take twice as long to recover from a concussion than adults, with one in four children experiencing symptoms beyond one month post-injury.”
Prof. Vicki Anderson of MCRI said assessment, prevention, and intervention of mental health difficulties after concussion should be integrated into standard concussion management, according to Science Daily.
“Mental health is central to concussion recovery,” she said. “Concussion may both precipitate and exacerbate mental health difficulties, impacting delayed recovery and psychosocial outcomes.” “Incorporating mental health risk into post-injury management represents an opportunity to engage children and adolescents with mental health services to either prevent unnecessary problems emerging or to treat already existing issues,” Prof. Anderson added.