Undiagnosed head trauma may be the underlying cause of many of the learning disabilities and other mental illnesses that are characterized by thinking problems (what professionals often refer to as “cognitive deficits”). So says a new study that the Wall Street Journal reported on today.

What’s new is the contention of some researchers that there are many other cases where a severe past blow to the head, resulting in unconsciousness or confusion, is the unrecognized source of such problems. “Unidentified traumatic brain injury is an unrecognized major source of social and vocational failure,” says Wayne A. Gordon, director of the Brain Injury Research Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, where much of the research is being done.

But don’t be alarmed if your child had a fall and hit their heads:

Doctors say about 85% of common falls in infancy don’t produce long-term deficits, but that some do.

The researchers found that once such “hidden” brain injuries have been properly identified, they can often be readily treated by therapy that helps people with such cognitive deficits. The therapy can include many cognitive behavioral types of interventions, including “attention exercises, reading articles to explain the main idea, interpreting charts and graphs, taking classes on how to take apart a problem and reduce it to smaller steps, writing mock “advice columns” on how to handle life issues,” according to the WSJ article.

One of the things a mental health professional generally does when faced with someone presenting with serious cognitive issues is to recommend they seek out a medical consult for an MRI or similar type of brain scan, to rule out organic or medical causes. All too often, however, such medical consults are simply recommendations, not requirements. Without that vital piece of information, many professionals are likely treating people today with undiagnosed brain injuries.

Read the full article: Studies Cite Head Injuries As Factor in Some Social Ills