Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

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.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

19 Nov 98 | Health
Children unnecessarily at risk of accidents

Internet Links

Minor head injuries

Head injuries

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99