Head Injuries lead to violence

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The link between head injury and violence was particularly strong if the previous head injury had occurred within the past year, the authors note in the journal Pediatrics.

The studies author, Dr. Sarah Stoddard of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, analyzed several years' worth of data from 850 high schoolers, following them until five years after they left school.  All of the participants had a grade point average of 3 or lower, putting them at risk for dropping out.  In the fifth year of the study, 88 of the young adults said they had suffered a head injury. Of those individuals, 43 percent said they had gotten into a fight, hurt someone, or taken part in some type of violence over the following year. That compared to 34 percent of those who didn't report a head injury.

The findings hint that the more recent a head injury is, the more likely a young adult is to be aggressive. According to Stoddard, "The brain does recover over time."  She also found that things like drug use, heavy drinking and a history of violence did not seem to explain the findings.

She said researchers should investigate the long-term effects of head injuries in young people, as well as preventive measures such as protective gear for sports and interventions that help kids with head injuries manage their behaviours before they lead to violence. 

What is interesting about this, is that the head injury could have been caused by any number of things.  It does not have to be something traumatic like a car accident, it could be from playing sports, falling off a bike or play equipment.  Head Injuries may be quickly forgotten if other physical injuries recover quickly. 

SOURCE: bit.ly/kY5kUf Pediatrics, online May 29, 2011.

Claire Howard is a Partner in the Personal Injury team.

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