Studies in several countries, including Denmark, have found that between 10 and 30% of patients diagnosed with Concussion suffer from long-term symptoms. These long term consequences were recognized by the American Academy of Neurology in an important study published in July, 2020 and featured in this blog (“a single mild to moderate TBI may cause long-term neuroaxonal degeneration and astrogliosis/ activation.”)
Having recognized the potential for serious long-term consequences, researchers have begun to assess the economic impact of concussion. A Danish study recently published in BMJ Open concluded that concussions have a large and long-lasting impact on the salary and employment of working class adults on a national scale.
The authors studied all Danish patients aged 20-59 years who were treated at a public hospital or emergency room between 2003 and 2017 after suffering a concussion without other intracranial injuries or extracranial injuries and without any prior history of any intracranial or extracranial injuries within 10 years prior to the concussion. The average salary loss of concussion victims was 4.2 % (a significant number given our understanding that a majority of concussion victims do fully recover.) The impact of concussions on salary materialized one year after injury and remained sizeable for at least five years. Less-educated victims saw more significant economic impacts. Given the incidence of concussion (450-600 per 100,000 people in Denmark) the cumulative national economic impact was substantial.
Many insurers, relying on out-of-date information, maintain that concussions have no lasting impact. Fortunately this myth has been debunked in medical research throughout the world and more attention is being paid to avoiding concussion, more effectively treating the symptoms of concussion, and providing more support and accommodation to long-term sufferers.