Injury and Illness – Causes of ADHD?

Influenza

An overwhelming influenza outbreak in the year of 1918 “has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history” according to the Department of Virology  (Human Virology) at Stanford University.  This global illness which is discussed in many academic disciplines altered many areas of human life. When this widespread illness occurred medical practitioners were not able to do much in response. There were rules put in place in regards to the flu and masks were even given out to people. It was common at the time to hear individuals especially young adolescents reciting a poem about this particular illness.  The rhyme goes as follows  “ I had a little bird, Its name was Enza.  I opened the window, And in-flu-enza.”  The influenza spread throughout the world and ultimately left survivors in large numbers with encephalitis which basically caused neurological dysfunction. In harsh instances of encephalitis there would be altered behavior found in patients.  Some of these individuals exhibited immediate behavioral problems similar to what we now call ADHD. It is  interesting that according to doctors in the past it was once thought that ADHD was caused by a respiratory illness.

Encephalitis caused behavioral issues. This image is a picture of a medical publication from 1931.Some of these individuals exhibited immediate behavioral problems similar to what we now call ADHD. It is  interesting that according to doctors in the past it was once thought that ADHD was caused by a respiratory illness.

Brain Injury 

Throughout history injury was thought to cause ADHD. Prior to the 2008 Keenan,H.T.,et al, study the researchers involved acknowledged a connection among brain injury and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder but they were not sure if there was a positive or negative correlation. This study based in the United Kingdom was conducted to see whether young children who suffered a brain injury would develop ADHD later on in childhood (before the age of ten.) It was concluded that young people who suffered damage to their head prior to the age of two were much more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. When a child experiences a wound or injury especially in the head they should be observed and looked after as a precaution.  Additionally there is an indication that children that were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder before they suffered an injury to the head may have more continuous and serious ADHD symptoms and this in a way perplexes the connection between injury and ADHD. However with all of this being said researchers found that head injury by itself does not cause Attention Deficit.

Besides this particular study conducted in the UK there have been numerous other studies conducted in regards to injury and ADHD, for example, in 1998 research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was done having to do with closed head injuries and children acquiring secondary ADHD. They found that there is a lot of ADHD in children who suffered intense closed head injuries, this was referred to as S-ADHD.

Prior to 1998, Ross, D. M., & Ross, S. A. (1976) looked at and acknowledged previous research from the 1930s and 1940s that fostered the concept of damage to the brain being related to atypical behavior.

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