By Anu Bakshi
A new joint study by St. Michael’s Hospital and Centre for Addition and Mental Health (CAMH) shows that one in five adolescents have suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that has left them unconscious for five minutes or required overnight hospitalization.
Students reported that over half of traumatic brain injuries were caused by sports activity such as soccer or hockey. The study shows that there is a link between traumatic brain injuries, mental health and substance abuse. Researchers plan to study the potential link in the future.
While the prevalence of traumatic brain injury seems higher than thought. Many youth tend not to tell their parents, teachers, coaches or health care professionals about injuries.
The results of the data cause concern for the researchers because adolescent brains are still developing and those who have experienced a concussion are at a greater risk of future ones.
The good news about the study is now we can work with youth, parents, teachers, coaches and health care professionals to educate them in the prevention of TBI. We can educate on treatment options so the long term effects can be minimized. And finally, we can also provide substance abuse education without judgment or prejudice so young people can actually get some help.
The data from a 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey developed by CAMH, had responses from almost 9000 students from grades 7-12. This is one of the first studies to focus on youth and to include self-reporting. Other studies tend to focus on hospital records.
Read the study here.