Can Brain Injury Cause ADHD?

Brain injuries can occur in many different accidents, from car crashes to drowning. If you sustained a brain injury caused by the negligence of another party, be sure to learn your legal options by speaking with a West Virginia brain injury lawyer. Any time the brain sustains damage, either from internal issues (acquired brain injury) or external forces (traumatic brain injury), the victim can suffer lifelong consequences. Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who survive brain injuries could have lasting effects – including ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The Link Between Brain Injury and ADHD

TBIs can impact the brain’s ability to function normally. Bleeding or swelling in the brain can lead to the death of brain cells – something that will never reverse. The more severe the brain injury, the worse the symptoms. Some victims may notice nausea, vomiting, and confusion, while others may lose consciousness and suffer memory loss. One potential long-term ramification of a serious TBI is permanent brain damage. Yet not all victims may experience the full impacts of a brain injury right away.

A May 2018 study found that some traumatic brain injury survivors could experience the consequences of their injuries as far as five to 10 years after the date of the incident. Children who suffer TBIs could develop secondary ADHD years after sustaining (and evidently recovering from) the injury. The study included 187 children. It found a significant association between severe traumatic brain injuries and increased risk for secondary ADHD. The study found new onset of ADHD up to 6.8 years after injury.

The study followed the 187 participants over the span of seven to 10 years after suffering brain injuries. It is the longest such study in existence. Of the 187 children involved, 48 eventually fulfilled the parameters of secondary ADHD or about 25% of the group. According to the study, the risk of developing ADHD was four times higher in children with severe TBIs than the other participants. Researchers hope the outcomes of the study will encourage parents and doctors to monitor children long after TBI incidents occur.

What Can Parents Do About TBI-Related ADHD?

Physicians treat secondary ADHD, or ADHD as a result from a traumatic brain injury, in a child, relatively the same way as typical ADHD. A combination of medication and behavioral therapy is the standard form of treatment. The point of the study was not necessary to learn how to prevent TBI-related ADHD (as there is currently no known cure), but to show a correlation to encourage monitoring children and diagnosing this behavioral condition early; before it has the chance to disrupt academic or social life.

Early ADHD diagnosis can get children the treatment they need to stay on task, thrive in school, and conquer behavioral problems. Instead of suffering through a long period of difficulties and failures before parents and health care practitioners realize what’s wrong, children can benefit from quick diagnosis and early treatment when parents know what to look for. Recognizing traumatic brain injury as a proven contributing factor to secondary ADHD can help parents pay close attention to child behaviors five to 10 years after the accident for signs of the condition.

Take follow-up care seriously if your child suffers a traumatic brain injury early in life. Continue monitoring your child years after the incident for strange mood or behaviors changes; especially symptoms of ADHD. These can include difficulty completing tasks, disorganization, lack of focus, and forgetfulness. As soon as you notice any potential signs of ADHD in your child, take them seriously and see a doctor. Inform the doctor of your child’s past brain injury history for a full scope of the issue. A physician may be able to diagnose ADHD earlier if he or she knows your child previously suffered a traumatic brain injury.