Most people who have had a concussion would call themselves normal. They may have had symptoms for a day or two, but when those symptoms faded they returned to their normal work, sport or day-to-day lives. While those people may seem normal, their brains are not.

This study reports data on 1.1 million Swedish children and young adults born between 1973 and 1985. From that group, 104,290 kids had a doctor diagnose them with traumatic brain injury (TBI). These kids grew up to be far more likely to drop out of high school, to be diagnosed or hospitalized with a mental illness, to end up on welfare or a disability pension, and to die. This was seen not only when they were compared to the rest of the group, but also compared to their siblings. Using this elegant statistical tool, the researchers showed that the head injury was almost certainly the reason.

There were other interesting findings of the study. Younger brains fared better than older ones, with worse outcomes seen in those who were over 20 at the time of their injury. Those with recurrent concussions were far more affected, with some outcomes reported at five times greater risk. And increased risk was also seen in mild TBI, which is what we call a simple concussion.

The message is clear. If you have suffered a concussion, you should make it a priority to take care of your brain. You can do this by eating more fruits and vegetables, less meat, using healthy fats, getting regular exercise, drinking in moderation, getting proper sleep, managing stress abnd practicing mindfulness. And if possible, finding a provider to help you heal your brain.

This study was published in an open-access journal, so the full text is available here:

Swedish TBI Cohort Study