15, 2014 (Toronto) - Teenagers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury such as a
concussion are at “significantly greater odds” of attempting suicide, being
bullied and engaging in a variety of high risk behaviours, a new study has
They are also more likely to become bullies themselves, to
have sought counselling through a crisis help-line or to have been prescribed
medication for anxiety, depression or both, said Dr. Gabriela Ilie, lead author
of the study and a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital.
They have higher odds of
damaging property, breaking and entering, taking a car without permission,
selling marijuana or hashish, running away from home, setting a fire, getting
into a fight at school or carrying or being threatened by a weapon, she said in
a paper published today in the journal PLOSONE.
Dr. Ilie said the study provides the first population-based
evidence demonstrating the extent of the association between TBI and poor
mental health outcomes among adolescents.
“These results show that
preventable brain injuries and mental health and behavioural problems among
teens continue to remain a blind spot in our culture,” Dr. Ilie said. “These
kids are falling through the cracks.”
The data used in the study was from the 2011 Ontario
Student Drug Use and Health Survey developed by the Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health. The survey, one of the longest ongoing school
surveys in the world, contains responses from almost 9,000 students from Grades
7-12 in publicly funded schools across Ontario.
The OSDUHS began as a drug use survey, but is now a broader study of adolescent
health and well-being. Questions about traumatic brain injury were added to the
survey for the first time in 2011.
“We know from a previous study based on OSDUHS data that as
many as 20 per cent of adolescents in Ontario
said they have experienced a traumatic brain injury in their lifetime,” said
Dr. Robert Mann, senior scientist at CAMH and director of the OSDUHS. “The
relationship between TBI and mental health issues is concerning and calls for
greater focus on prevention and further research on this issue."
Dr. Ilie said the teenage years
are already a turbulent time for some, as they try to figure out who they are
and what they want to be. Since a TBI can exacerbate mental health and
behavioural issues, she said primary physicians, schools, parents and coaches
need to be vigilant in monitoring adolescents with TBI.
In addition, she said many TBI
experienced by youth occur during sports and recreational pursuits, and are
largely preventable through use of helmets and the elimination of body checking
The study found that
adolescents who had suffered a TBI sometime in their life had twice the odds of
being bullied at school or via the Internet and almost three times the odds of
attempting suicide or being threatened at school with a weapon compared to
those without a TBI.
This research was funded
by a Canadian Institute of HealthResearchTeam Grant in Traumatic Brain Injury
and Violenceand by the OntarioNeurotrauma Foundation. Additional funding was
obtained from a grantfrom AUTO21, a member of the Networks of Centres of
Excellenceprogram that is administered and funded by the Natural Sciences
andEngineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and HumanitiesResearch
Council, in partnership with Industry Canada, and ongoingfunding support
from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
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, care of the
homeless and global health 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
For more information or to
interview Dr. Ilie, contact:
Manager, Media Strategy
Communications and Public Affairs Department
St. Michael’s Hospital
Inspired Care. Inspiring Science.
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 its field. 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. For
more information, please visit www.camh.ca.
For more information on OSDUHS or to interview Dr. Mann,
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Office: 416 535 8501 x36015
Mobile: 416 427