Concussions may increase risk of mental health issues in kids, study finds

Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 1:58 PM CST
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(CNN) - Concussions may lead to a higher risk of kids developing mental health problems, a new study finds.

“Some of the primary symptoms after a concussion can include things like changes in mood, anxious thoughts, changes in behavior, irritability, that sort of thing,” Kelly McNally, co-director of the Complex Concussion Clinic at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said.

The Canadian study published in JAMA Network Open examined records of kids between the ages of 5 and 18 who had a concussion or orthopedic injury over a 10-year period between 2010 and 2020.

None of the children had a mental health diagnosis before getting hurt, but researchers found that concussed youth had a 40% increased risk of developing a mental health issue compared with children the same age and sex with an orthopedic injury.

Children who had a concussion also had an increased risk of self-harming and undergoing psychiatric hospitalization compared to those with an orthopedic injury.

McNally says parents should be aware.

”I think a primary thing for parents to do is just to keep that conversation rolling with their children, so if they have had an injury ask them how they’re feeling. How are they doing emotionally? How are they coping?” she said.

If there are any red flags such as mood changes, being withdrawn or your child is not enjoying activities they once did, parents should seek help.

”We don’t want parents to be afraid for their children to play sports, but it does provide information to parents to help empower them to get the right help for their children if they are seeing mental health symptoms after something like a concussion,” McNally said.

She says it is important to seek care early if there are any concerns about mental health problems so that issues can be treated more easily and quicker.

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