Doctors Find Link Between Concussions, Psychiatric Disorders

Concussion may lead into certain psychiatric disorders especially for student athletes, a new study finds.

Football Player

Photo: John McStravick/Flickr

Football, soccer and basketball are the sports with most concussions

A new study links concussions to certain psychiatric disorders.

Research from St. Vincent Sports Performance shows 74 percent of athletes who experience long recovery times after concussions later show signs of ADHD, anxiety, learning disabilities and depression.

A sports-neuropsychologist Adam Shunk worked on the study for St. Vincent Sports Performance.

“This is not the only study that’s found that relationship. It’s actually fairly well documented that people who have a concussion can go on to have these problems. I think what’s new about this study is just how common it is those numbers in an overwhelming majority of student athletes who take that long to recover that there is some sort of psychological factor in play,” Shunk says.

Shunk says a majority of the disorders are not caused by concussions but are pre-conditions that are worsened after the concussion.

John Baldea, a Sports Medicine doctor at the IU Health Physicians Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, says a few simple precautions in sports can drastically reduce the risk of concussions for athletes.

“It has already been done at the NFL level, moving off the kickoffs to the 35 instead of the 30. That had an effective decrease in concussion just on kickoffs by 30 percent or one-third from one year to the next. Further rule changes can potentially give dramatic changes in decreasing concussions. But, it would have to be adopted at not just NFL but also the collegiate, high school and middle school levels,” says Baldea.

Health experts say athletes should immediately seek medical care if they are suspected of having a concussion and should let their doctors know if symptoms last more than ten days after a concussion.

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