June 9, 2011

Head Injuries Can Lead to Violence

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Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Traumatic head injuries can lead patients to violent behavior a year following trauma

(dailyRx News) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has long-term health implications including changes in memory capacity and emotions. Some behaviors resulting from these changes include irritability, impulsiveness and violence.

A recent University of Michigan study indicates that young people who sustain a serious head injury are more likely to engage in violent behavior one year after the head injury. Traumatic Brain Injury patients who seek care in a hospital number around 1.7 million U.S. citizens a year. 

"Young people should use protective headgear during athletic activities."

Lead author Sarah Stoddard, a research assistant professor at the School of Public Health, University of Michigan shares that the study's brain injuries weren't necessarily sports related. Car accidents were included in the study as well.

Stoddard and her team did find a link between a head injuries and violence later in life. The study's results indicate a recent head injury leads to violent behavior.  The study results also suggest that adolescents and young adults who have suffered a head injury did not interfere with their ability to answer questions during an hour-long interview.

These patients giving lucid answers can still experience significant adverse developmental or behavioral effects.

Marc Zimmerman, professor of public health and chair of the U-M Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, is the principal investigator of the study. Data for the study was from the School of Public Health's Flint Adolescent Study, which reviews many issues involving inner-city youth.

Moreover, Stoddard and Zimmerman examined the relationship between  head injuries and how quickly violent behavior occurred. They found that an injury reported in year seven of the study predicted violent behavior in year eight.

The highlights of this research study are as follows:

  • The long-term study followed a group of ninth graders into young adulthood. annual interviews were conducted every year for eight years. In years five and six, participants were asked if they had ever sustained a head injury.
  • A head injury for the purposes of this study is defined as having been knocked unconscious, sustaining a concussion or a fractured skull.
  • Those who said yes, about 23 percent, did report more violent behavior in the final year of the study.
  • The study participants would be approximately 21 in year seven of the study.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
June 2, 2011

Last Updated:
June 9, 2011