Head impact is an issue to be considered in mental illness. I recently heard on the radio that new guidance was being given to children playing football to avoid heading the ball.
Head impact is now a recurring theme in cases of mental illness. In this guidance the reason given was the linkage with dementia in later life.
In the heavyweight boxing world, the Late Cassius Clay [aka Muhammed Ali] was the first high profile case of mental illness from head impact. Frank Bruno, now a mental health advocate is another.
Recently there were reports on how Tyson Fury overcame addictions and depression to win world titles.
Often times we hear about memory loss due to concussion. Extrapolate that to repeatedly getting head butts or boxing gloves impact on your head. I wonder that the likes George Foreman survive and thrive afterwards.
Our human body must’ve been made to be very resilient. The skull is one of the toughest parts of the human skeleton. But repeated unnatural blows to our skull has the potential to cause mental illness.
A 2019 study indicates that approximately 1 in 5 individuals may experience mental health symptoms up to six months after mild traumatic brain injury. I can only imagine that these reports were the background to the guidance to young children not to head the ball while playing football.
Head impact potentially leads to brain injury. This can result in the development of a mental health condition. Research indicates that people who have experienced a brain injury are more likely to develop a mental health condition than the general population. The conditions of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and clinical depression are the most cited ones.
This is not only an issue with adults. Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children. Research indicates rates of injury have increased over the past decade. These injuries have long-term consequences.
Children who experience traumatic brain injury are at higher risk of developing headache, depression, and mental or intellectual disorders up to five years after the event.
There has to be a balance between cocooning our children and protecting them. But it’s essential to be aware of the risks we run. Deliberately going into situations with with the potential for extended periods of head impact clearly has to be weighed seriously. Where we are responsible for those not aware of the risks, it’s even more the case.
Would you go into a career exposing you to higher risk of head impact? Comment and share with those you know. Thanks!