Resources and legal help for Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Survivors

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Resources and legal help for Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Survivors

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is a condition affecting the behavioral aspects of attentiveness, impulse, and hyperactivity. There are a number of symptoms that can indicate an individual as affected by ADHD, though generally it is safe to use a child’s age and developmental norms as a baseline for determining those who may be behind or outside the proper expectations. ADHD has been attributed to several factors, including genetic predisposition and lack of oxygen to the brain (commonly a result of breathing conditions or allergies). More recently, there has been a focus on individuals who suffered traumatic brain injuries and the relationship these injuries may have with ADHD.

ADHD is a treatable condition in the sense that the symptoms can be controlled with behavioral therapy and medication. For an average individual suffering from fluctuations in attentiveness and impulse-driven behavior, psychiatric consultation without medication will provide the means necessary to correct the behavior. Individuals truly suffering from ADHD will most likely need a combination of behavioral and prescription therapies to alleviate the symptoms. Though hyperactivity is a determining factor in many cases of ADHD, the medications most often prescribed actually stimulate the nervous system. Failures or slow reactions in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain largely responsible for decision-making and personality traits, are the target of these medications.

Studies performed in recent years have indicated there may be a relationship between individuals suffering from ADHD and traumatic brain injuries they suffered, usually in childhood. Though no definitive evidence has been published, the scientific community is beginning to put faith in the preliminary results. Genetics is important when considering elements that cause the presence of ADHD in any individual, but there may be outside factors that contribute to, or trigger, the condition. Traumatic brain injury seems to be a common item in the medical history of many patients suffering from ADHD.

When individuals with an ADHD diagnosis are questioned about childhood injuries, the majority claims that a head injury was suffered before the age of two. Scientists have undoubtedly identified an influx of childhood injuries in patients who test positive for symptoms of ADHD, though the research comes with a hitch. Children who are born with the symptoms of ADHD are more prone to reckless behavior. The impulses that cause problems in ADHD patients in adolescence and adulthood were also present in them as children, though manifested in different behaviors. It is currently a focus of study to determine whether the ADHD was a result of - or aggravated by - a traumatic brain injury suffered in childhood, or whether the brain injury was the result of reckless behavior caused by an already present ADHD condition.

An increased rate of symptoms is present in patients who, as children, experienced a head injury by reckless behavior as well as head injury caused by environmental factors. The evidence backing injury to the brain from maternal smoking or drug use as it relates to later diagnosis of ADHD is inarguable. Science is now aimed at identifying how, if environmental elements can injure the brain to the extent ADHD symptoms present themselves later, do brain injuries suffered through contact or other physical behavior cause the same effect? Without identifying ADHD in children before the age of 2, it may be extremely difficult to connect the relationship between a traumatic brain injury and later symptoms of ADHD. Genetic testing and identification of the genes responsible for ADHD symptoms will provide significant backing to any claims that the diagnosis was the result of, and not a contributor to, a head injury suffered in childhood.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence currently stand on ADHD as the result of a number of factors that all play a role in full manifestation of the condition. There is an agreed upon conclusion, currently accepted as true, that the factors causing ADHD work with each other to cause the condition, rather than in isolation. No one causality can ever be solely attributed to the development of ADHD, though each can be identified individually as a piece of the puzzle. Pediatricians, in an attempt to close the gap between speculation and evidence, have become more likely to monitor children who suffer head injuries for symptoms of ADHD as they develop. Identifying symptoms that occur early is beneficial to research in drawing connections between the injury and the condition, and aids the patient by enabling treatment early before adolescence and adulthood, where controlling the symptoms is a much more daunting task.

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