It is estimated that as many as 3.8 million concussions occur in the U.S. each year (Harmon, et al., 2013). These brain injuries are not just a result of football or hockey, but happen throughout our population in a variety of sports, recreational activities and accidents.
Current evidence suggests that those with ADHD are at greater risk for concussions as compared to those without ADHD. According to the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, those with ADHD are about three times more likely to have three or more concussions as compared to those without ADHD.
In one sample of NCAA Division I athletes, at least 50 percent of the athletes with ADHD reported a prior history of at least one concussion versus only 14 percent of athletes without ADHD (Alosco, Fedor, & Gunstad, 2014).
Putting this concussion information into practice can be tricky because those with ADHD can perform differently on the baseline cognitive tests as compared to those without ADHD. Also, more research is needed to determine if those with ADHD are actually more susceptible to head injuries, or are more likely to report concussions, or if their post concussion symptoms have a greater impact.
In the meantime, there are a few important take home messages:
Those with ADHD have a higher rate of concussions than those without ADHD.
It is important to get a baseline concussion test done for all student athletes prior to his/her sport season begins. Be sure it is noted whether the student is taking ADHD medication at the time of the test. Individual results on these tests vary so this baseline information may become extremely important if a concussion occurs.
If you have ADHD or are a parent of a child with ADHD, and you suspect a concussion, see an expert who understands that pre-existing ADHD may be an important factor to consider.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.