Saturday, December 5, 1998 Published at 11:36 GMT
Hidden danger of minor head injuries
Minor brain injuries can lead to long-tern disability
People who suffer minor head injuries may be at risk of developing disabilities at a later date, research has found.
A Welsh study which looked at patients who were admitted to hospital with minor head injuries showed that over 28% had a disability a year later.
The researchers, from the Division of Psychological Medicine at the University of Wales College of Medicine, studied 148 people aged over 17 who had been admitted to hospital in the South Glamorgan area between July 1994 and June 1995.
All had either blacked out, suffered a skull fracture or a cerebral haemorrhage or had clinical evidence of brain injury on admission to hospital.
One year on, just under three per cent were severely disabled and more than 25% had a moderate disability.
Some 17% had a psychiatric illness and many showed behavioural problems associated with post-concussional syndrome.
Thirty per cent were irritable; 29% had sleep problems; 27% were impatient; 25% suffered mood swings; 22% tiredness and 15% slowness in thinking.
The researchers acknowledge that the people they studied were at the serious end of the minor injuries scale.
But they say previous studies have tended to focus on the psychological impact of minor head injuries and have often not included people over 65 years old.
They say they do not know why the patients developed disabilities.
They tried to find links with particular types of behaviour, such as weekly alcohol intake, but said they showed no significant effects.
One per cent of people who attend accident and emergency in the South Glamorgan Health District are suffering from head injuries.
About 10% of these are admitted to hospital with minor head injuries.
The research is published in the current edition of the J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry journal.