Recent study supports link between brain injury and ADHD

December 22nd, 2015

A recent study has demonstrated a link between lifetime traumatic brain injury (TBI) and ADHD in adults, further implicating a relationship between the two conditions.

Over the last 15 years, a number of papers have reported ADHD to be either a consequence of or a potential risk factor for TBI. However, the majority of the populations studied have been limited to adolescents; this recent study from a coalition of Canadian universities is one of the first to investigate this link in an adult population.

Using a sample group of 3,993 adults from Ontario, the team found that, of the individuals who reported experiencing a TBI in their lifetime, 5.9% had previously been diagnosed with ADHD, and 6.6% currently screen positive for ADHD.

The results imply that adults who sustain a TBI in their lifetime are more than twice as likely to have a diagnosis of ADHD than those without a history of head trauma. However, the researchers were unable to clarify which condition was the causal factor – it could be that TBI caused ADHD in these adults, or that their ADHD increased their risk of sustaining a TBI.

Although the direction of the relationship remains unknown, it has become increasingly clear that there is a clinically significant link between brain injury and ADHD. As such, it may be useful for clinicians to look for a history of head trauma when assessing an adult patient for ADHD.

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