By On August 20th, 2015

Adults With History of TBI Have Higher Chance of ADHD Diagnosis

Recent research has indicated that children who experience traumatic brain injury are at heightened risk of attention-deficit hyperactive disorder, and now new research published today in the Journal of Psychiatric Research has found adults with a history of TBI face similar risks.

The BrainThe study found a “significant association” between adults who have experienced TBI at any point in their lives and ADHD, said lead author of the study Dr. Gabriela Ilie, a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The new adult study used data collected by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Monitor, a continuous cross-sectional telephone survey of nearly 4,000 Ontario resident age 18 and older. In the study, traumatic brain injury was defined specifically as any injury to the head that resulted in loss of consciousness for at least five minutes or overnight hospitalization.

It should be noted most cases of mild traumatic brain injury, commonly called a concussion, do not result in loss of consciousness or hospitalization, however, these can be common for moderate or severe TBI.

ADHD was evaluated by self-reported history of ADHD diagnosis of the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS).

Among adults with a history of TBI, almost 6 percent reported also being diagnosed with ADHD in their lifetime, while another 6.6 percent screened positive for AHD when the self-report scale was conducted in the course of the phone survey.

“This is not be surprising because some of the most persistent consequences of TBI include ADHD-like symptoms, such as memory and attention impairment, deficits in executive functions such as planning and organization, processing consonants and vowels and impulsive behaviour,” Dr. Ilie said.

Other research has indicated TBI could contribute to psycho-neurological changes that facilitate the development ADHD, or potentially ADHD may increase the chance a person may fall or be involved in an accident likely to cause TBI.

“Therefore it may be useful to assess TBI history during screening and assessment of ADHD in the adult population,” Dr. Ilie said.

Dr. Robert Mann, senior scientist at CAMH and co-principal investigator said this latest study extends previous findings from the research team about the association between TBI and mental health and addiction issues.

“These new data suggest a significant association between ADHD and TBI,” Dr. Mann said. “We see that adults with TBI are more than twice as likely than those without to report symptoms of ADHD.”

2 Responses

  1. H. Quinton says:

    What treatments are available in the UK for adult ADHD type symptoms following TBI ?

  2. Penny Grechus says:

    I do not know what treatments are available in the UK for these symptoms, but in the US we use a combination of psychopharmacology and CBT. I have dealt with these problems both personally and professionally and recommend a combination of both treatments. Meditation and forms of release therapy (similar to accupressure) are also helpful if the TBI is combined with chronic pain.
    For those who experience moderate to severe ADHD symptoms/signs the medication methyphenidate is most helpful. It can improve memory somewhat, but works best on controlling impulsivity and executive function impairment in adults with ADHD, regardless of when they were diagnosed. For further information you can check the Attention Deficit Disorder Association website, The Applied Neuropsychology Annal, and the American Association of Psychiatric Nurses website.

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