History of a head injury with loss of consciousness led to a higher prevalence of disability later in life among individuals aged 40 years and older, according to a cross-sectional analysis published in Neurology.
Andrea L.C. Schneider
“The substantial burden of disability suggests that research into how to better care for and improve the functioning of people with concussions over the long term should be a priority for both public health and for planning for individuals,” Andrea L.C. Schneider, MD, PhD, a physician affiliated with the neurocritical care and traumatic brain injury programs at Penn Medicine, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said in a press release.
Schneider and colleagues examined data from the 2011 to 2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination (NHANE) Surveys of individuals 40 years or older. The researchers included self-reported histories of head injury with loss of consciousness among 7,390 participants. They assess disability by measuring grip strength and analyzed answers from the NHANE survey about difficulty performing physical activities. They also adjusted for demographics, socioeconomic factors, behavioral factors and comorbidities.
The majority of participants were women (53%) and non-Hispanic white (71%). The average age of all participants was 58 years.
Overall, 16% of the cohort reported a history of head injury with loss of consciousness. Compared to 38.6% of participants who reported some level of disability despite no history of head injury, 47.4% of participants reporting a head injury had a disability in at least one area of physical functioning analyzed (P < .001). The greatest rates of disability related to the domains of mobility and work productivity, according to the study results. The association of head injury with disability mostly persisted despite adjusting for comorbidities (all P < .05), although associations with grip strength did not.
“[The findings] correspond to 11.4 million people in the U.S. with a history of concussion with loss of consciousness and disability in at least one area,” Schneider said. “It’s possible that this is an underestimation, as the study did not include people in the military, nursing facilities or prisons who may be more likely to experience concussions and disability.”
American Academy of Neurology. Concussion with loss of consciousness may be linked to life with some disability. Available at: https://www.aan.com/AAN-Resources/Details/press-room/. Accessed May 26, 2021.