Concussion with Loss of Consciousness May Be Linked to Life with Some Disability

People were also asked whether a physical, mental or emotional problem keeps them from working at a job or limits the kind or amount of work they can do. An answer of “yes” was defined as having a disability in that area.

A total of 16% of people had experienced a concussion with loss of consciousness. Of those, 47% had some disability in at least one area of functioning, compared to 37% of people with no history of concussion.

“This corresponds to 11.4 million people in the United States with a history of concussion with loss of consciousness and disability in at least one area,” Schneider said. “And it’s possible that this is an underestimation, as the study did not include people in the military, nursing facilities or prisons who may have be more likely to experience concussions and disability.”

The study found the area with the greatest amount of disability was in mobility, such as being able to walk up 10 steps or stand up from an armless chair, with 38% experiencing at least some difficulty. About 36% said they had at least some difficulty in general physical activities such as carrying heavy objects or standing for long periods. About 35% of people said they were limited in the amount or type of work they could do.

The results were much the same after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect disability, such as age, amount of physical activity, high blood pressure, amount of sleep and depression. The only area that did not show a link between concussion and disability was grip strength.

Schneider noted that the study was not designed to show cause and effect. It only shows an association between past concussion with loss of consciousness and disability.

Learn more about concussion at BrainandLife.org, home of the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & Life® on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

When posting to social media channels about this research, we encourage you to use the hashtags #Neurology and #AANscience.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world’s largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with over 36,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

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