Minor head injuries could trigger life-long complications, says study

Even the most minor brain injuries can cause life-long complications and can have a lasting impact on physical and mental health, a new study has revealed.

The research, published by the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, indicates that even mild brain injuries should be comprehensively checked by a medical professional.

The study, which first appeared in the research journal JAMA Neurology, looks at the lasting effects of minor traumatic brain injuries against other typical non-brain related injuries.

Involving more than 1,100 patients with mild brain injuries and 299 patients with orthopaedic injuries but no head trauma, the researchers performed a series of tests to examine the lasting physical and mental deficits of each injury.

It was found that two weeks after injury, 87 per cent of brain injury patients and 93 per cent of the other trauma patients reported functional limitations – a number which was not statistically significant.

However, after one year, 53 per cent of brain injury patients still reported functional limitations, compared to just over a third (38 per cent) of other trauma patients.

Commenting on the research, study leader Lindsay Nelson said: “Unfortunately, many patients with mild traumatic brain injuries do not get any follow-up care after being discharged from the hospital.

“We need to do more to learn how to improve on the natural course of recovery so patients can get back to their lives more quickly.”

She added that mild brain injuries are much less likely to be taken seriously, which can lead to serious complications in later life.

Even when brain injuries are called “mild,” said Ms Nelson, they can still “lead to persistent physical, psychiatric and cognitive problems that result in lasting impairments and disability, especially when people go untreated”.