Young men with low socioeconomic status and low cognitive function are at much greater risk for suffering from a mild traumatic brain injury than those without, according to a new study.
Mild traumatic brain injuries may cause brain tissue damage and long-term problems with cognitive function, including deficits in attention, memory, verbal learning and processing speed.
There are approximately 10 million cases of traumatic brain injury globally per year with mild traumatic brain injuries being responsible for 70-90% of these. Incidence is highest among young males.
Researchers from Umea University in Sweden conducted a nationwide study that involved 305,885 young men who were recruited for military service in Sweden between 1989 and 1994. All of the men participated in a cognitive test. Average follow-up was 19 years.
Of all the men, 4,713 had already suffered one mild traumatic brain injury before cognitive testing, 11,217 men sustained one mild traumatic brain injury and 795 men at least two mild traumatic brain injuries during the study.
Cognitive function was 5.6% lower in those who experienced a mild traumatic brain injury in the two years before cognitive testing and 15% lower in those who sustained at least two mild traumatic brain injuries after cognitive testing, compared with those who had no mild traumatic brain injury.
Participants who sustained a mild traumatic brain injury within three months before cognitive testing and those who sustained one within two years after cognitive testing had similar cognitive scores.
Men in the lowest group of overall cognitive function were at a significantly increased risk of having sustained one mild traumatic brain injury in the two years before the cognitive testing.
Length of education was inversely linked to the number of mild traumatic brain injuries and total income was lower in subjects with a mild traumatic brain injury.
Strong risk factors for mild traumatic brain injuries included the following: low overall cognitive function, low total income, high physical fitness, hospital admission for intoxication, a previous mild traumatic brain injury, low education and taking early disability pension.
The findings reveal that low cognitive function and factors related to a low socioeconomic status are strong risk factors for mild traumatic brain injuries.
The researchers added that “successful prevention of mild traumatic brain injuries may include an assessment and evaluation of these risk factors.”
Source: British Medical Journal