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Head Injury and Substance Use in Teenagers

Posted Oct 02 2008 6:16pm

A paper published in the January 2008 issue of Journal of Pediatric Surgery contains the results of a study examining the role of drug and alcohol use in adolescents suffering from traumatic brain injuries. Using trauma registry data to identify adolescent blunt trauma victims between 2000 and 2005, demographic information, injury severity, length of hospital stay, and clinical outcomes were evaluated. Of the total number of adolescent patients sampled, 9.3% tested positive for drug and/or alcohol use (the mean age of toxicology-positive patients was 17.2 years). The most commonly detected drugs were cannabis (40%), alcohol (30%), and polysubstances (23%). Substance-positive patients were more likely to be comatose, to have more significant injuries, and require emergency operations than adolescent patients who did not test positive for substance use. Length of hospital stay was was also significantly longer. In terms of outcome, mortality was found to be significantly higher and functional independence was lower. The authors conclude that substance abuse was linked to injury severity, need for medical care, and poor medical outcome for adolescent blunt trauma victims.

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