At the University of Kentucky neuropsychologist Dan Han, an expert on concussions, and psychologist Lisa Koehl, joined forces to study how concussions cause and are complicated by emotional effects in a group of 37 student athletes age 12-17. What they found is that 22 of the 37 students showed chronic post-concussive symptoms. Of those, 23 percent were sensitive to light while 14 percent were sensitive to noise. In comparison, of the 15 teens without emotional symptoms, 13 percent were sensitive to light and no teens were sensitive to noise. Teens in the study who reported anxiety were 55 percent more likely to experience attention difficulties than those without anxiety, while teens with irritability/aggression were 35 percent more likely to self-report problems with attention than teens without irritability.
There were no differences between the two groups in factors such as what percentage experienced loss of consciousness, amnesia, nausea and/or headaches, indicating that the groups were likely comparable in the level of severity of concussion.
According to the researchers their findings demonstrate a bidirectional relationship between both emotional symptoms developing in conjunction with physical symptoms, and also emotional symptoms developing because of the physical symptoms. They hope the data can be used to plan more effective treatment for people with concussions.