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Head injuries triple long-term risk of early death

Posted on January 16, 2014

Survivors of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are three times more likely to die prematurely than the general population, often from suicide or fatal injuries, finds an Oxford University-led study.

A TBI is a blow to the head that leads to a skull fracture, internal bleeding, loss of consciousness for longer than an hour or a combination of these symptoms. Michael Schumacher’s recent skiing injury is an example of a TBI. Concussions, sometimes called mild TBIs, do not present with these symptoms and were analysed separately in this study.

Researchers examined Swedish medical records going back 41 years covering 218,300 TBI survivors, 150,513 siblings of TBI survivors and over two million control cases matched by sex and age from the general population. The work was carried out by researchers at Oxford University and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

‘We found that people who survive six months after TBI remain three times more likely to die prematurely than the control population and 2.6 times more likely to die than unaffected siblings,’ said study leader Dr Seena Fazel, a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry. ‘Looking at siblings who did not suffer TBIs allows us to control for genetic factors and early upbringing, so it is striking to see that the effect remains strong even after controlling for these.’

Read more at: Phys.org

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