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Current Year Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Study finds association between people who have had a traumatic brain injury and ADHD

TORONTO, Aug. 20, 2015— A new study has found a “significant association” between adults who have suffered a traumatic brain injury at some point in their lives and who also have attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

The study, published today in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, supports research that found a similar association in children, said Dr. Gabriela Ilie, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Brain injury
The data used in the adult study was collected by the
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)’s Monitor, a continuous, cross-sectional telephone survey of almost 4,000 Ontario residents age 18 and older. Traumatic brain injury was described as any injury to the head that resulted in loss of consciousness for at least five minutes or overnight hospitalization. ADHD was measured by self-reported history of an ADHD diagnosis or the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale known as the ASRS.

Among adults with a history of TBI, 5.9 per cent reported having been diagnosed with ADHD in their lifetime and another 6.6 per cent screened positive for ADHD when the self-report scale was conducted during the phone survey.

Recent clinical studies have suggested a relationship between ADHD and TBI that were experienced in childhood.

“This is not be surprising because some of the most persistent consequences of TBI include ADHD-like symptoms, such as memory and attention impairment, deficits in executive functions such as planning and organization, processing consonants and vowels and impulsive behaviour,” Dr. Ilie said.

Other studies have suggested that TBI may lead to psycho-neurological changes that facilitate ADHD or ADHD may increase the probability that a person may fall or have another accident that will result in a TBI.

“Therefore it may be useful to assess TBI history during screening and assessment of ADHD in the adult population,” Dr. Ilie said.

Dr. Robert Mann, senior scientist at CAMH and co-principal investigator said this latest study extends previous findings from the research team about the association between TBI and mental health and addiction issues.

“These new data suggest a significant association between ADHD and TBI,” Dr. Mann said. “We see that adults with TBI are more than twice as likely than those without to report symptoms of ADHD.” 

Traumatic brain injuries are increasing in developed countries. The World Health Organization has predicted that by 2020 TBI will become the third largest contributor of disease and disability in the world, following heart disease and depressions.

Injuries from team sports such as hockey and football have been identified as the main source of TBI among youth, while falls and motor vehicle collisions are the main causes among adults.

This work was financially supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. Additional funding was obtained from AUTO21, a member of the Networks of Centres of Excellence program that is administered and funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, in partnership with Industry Canada.

Author block: Gabriela Ilie, PhD St. Michael Hospital and University of Toronto; Evelyn R. Vingilis, PhD, University of Western Ontario; Robert E. Mann, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto; Hayley Hamilton, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto; Maggie Toplak, York University; Edward M. Adlaf, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto; Nathan Kolla, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto; Anca Ialomiteanu, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health;  Mark van der Mass, University of Toronto; Larissa Vingilis-Jaremko, University of Toronto; Jürgen Rehm, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto; Michael D. Cusimano, St. Michael Hospital and University of Toronto.

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About St. Michael’s Hospital 

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.


Media contacts
For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Ilie, contact:
Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Strategy
St. Michael's Hospital
416-864-6094
shepherdl@smh.ca
Inspired Care. Inspiring Science.
www.stmichaelshospital.com

About CAMH

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.

Media contact:
Kate Richards
Senior Media Relations Specialist,
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
416-535-8501 ext. 36015
kate.richards@camh.ca

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