Concussion and Risk of Chronic Medical and Behavioral Health Comorbidities

J Neurotrauma. 2021 Jun 1;38(13):1834-1841. doi: 10.1089/neu.2020.7484. Epub 2021 Apr 6.


While chronic neurological effects from concussion have been studied widely, little is known about possible links between concussion and long-term medical and behavioral comorbidities. We performed a retrospective cohort study of 9205 adult patients with concussion, matched to non-concussion controls from a hospital-based electronic medical registry. Patients with comorbidities before the index visit were excluded. Behavioral and medical comorbidities were defined by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth and Tenth Revision codes. Groups were followed for up to 10 years to identify comorbidity incidence after a concussion. Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate associations between concussion and comorbidities after multi-variable adjustment. Patients with concussion were 57% male (median age: 31; interquartile range [IQR] = 23-48 years) at enrollment with a median follow-up time of 6.1 years (IQR = 4.2-9.1) and well-matched to healthy controls. Most (83%) concussions were evaluated in outpatient settings (5% inpatient). During follow-up, we found significantly higher risks of cardiovascular risks developing including hypertension (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.7, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.5-1.9), obesity (HR = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.3-2.0), and diabetes mellitus (HR = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.4-2.3) in the concussion group compared with controls. Similarly, psychiatric and neurological disorders such as depression (HR = 3.0, 95% CI: 2.6-3.5), psychosis (HR = 6.0, 95% CI: 4.2-8.6), stroke (HR = 2.1 95% CI: 1.5-2.9), and epilepsy (HR = 4.4, 95% CI: 3.2-5.9) were higher in the concussion group. Most comorbidities developed less than five years post-concussion. The risks for post-concussion comorbidities were also higher in patients under 40 years old compared with controls. Patients with concussion demonstrated an increased risk of development of medical and behavioral health comorbidities. Prospective studies are warranted to better describe the burden of long-term comorbidities in patients with concussion.

Keywords: behavioral health; cardiovascular risk; concussion; long-term comorbidities; medical health; psychiatric disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis*
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology*
  • Brain Concussion / psychology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult