A new study found that teens who have suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury(TBI) are more likely to have harmful behaviours such as smoking cigarettes and contemplating suicide.
“Many harmful behaviours in adolescence can be precursors to addiction and mental health issues later in life,” said Dr. Robert Mann, a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
The study used data from the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health survey where researchers investigated 13 harmful health behaviours among 9,300 Grade 7 to 12 students.
Interesting results varied between different sexes with a history of TBI.
Boys were found 6% more likely to experience a concussion but girls were more likely to have increased psychological distress.
“Both boys and girls were more likely to engage in a variety of harmful behaviours if they reported a history of TBI, but girls engaged in all 13 harmful behaviours we looked for, whereas boys were at higher risk of engaging in only nine,” said Dr. Gabriela Ille, lead author of the study.
Older teens between the ages of 17 to 20 were also more likely to participate in these behaviours compared to teens between 14 and 16. Older teenage girls were 20% more likely to consume alcohol regularly than those in their mid-teens.
Ille advises parents to have their child immediately assessed by a doctor after a blow to the skull. She also recommends regular monitoring of symptoms and progress with a head injury specialist.
“Brain injuries are something that we must look at and treat short- and long-term,” says Ille.