Research Reports - Mental health implications of traumatic brain injury in children and youth

J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015 Fall;24(2):100-8. Epub 2015 Aug 31.

Schachar RJ(1), Park LS(2), Dennis M(3).

OBJECTIVE: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the most common cause of death and
disability in children and adolescents. Psychopathology is an established risk
factor for, and a frequent consequence of, TBI. This paper reviews the literature
relating psychopathology and TBI.
METHOD: Selective literature review.
RESULTS: The risk of sustaining a TBI is increased by pre-existing
psychopathology (particularly ADHD and aggression) and psychosocial adversity.
Even among individuals with no psychopathology prior to the injury, TBI is
frequently followed by mental illness especially ADHD, personality change,
conduct disorder and, less frequently, by post-traumatic stress and anxiety
disorders. The outcome of TBI can be partially predicted by pre-injury adjustment
and injury severity, but less well by age at injury. Few individuals receive
treatment for mental illness following TBI.
CONCLUSION: TBI has substantial relevance to mental health professionals and
their clinical practice. Available evidence, while limited, indicates that the
risk for TBI in children and adolescents is increased in the presence of several,
potentially treatable mental health conditions and that the outcome of TBI
involves a range of mental health problems, many of which are treatable.
Prevention and management efforts targeting psychiatric risks and outcomes are an
urgent priority. Child and adolescent mental health professionals can play a
critical role in the prevention and treatment of TBI through advocacy, education,
policy development and clinical practice.

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