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Brain injury may be linked to violent crime

According to a new long-term study, a traumatic brain injury often increases the likelihood that a victim of a head trauma will someday commit a violent crime. The study, which also examined the connection between epilepsy and violent crime, found that certain types of brain injuries made victims more likely to commit crimes.

A traumatic brain injury can have a wide variety of effects and consequences, ranging from headaches and an inability to concentrate to a loss of the ability to speak or remember. Depending on the severity of the injury and its results, victims may qualify for Social Security Disability under category 11 of the Social Security Administration Listing of Impairments, which covers brain injuries and other neurological disorders.

In the study, researchers in Sweden and Great Britain cataloged nearly 23,000 traumatic brain injury victims to determine whether they were more or less likely to commit a robbery, assault, homicide, sex crime, or other violent crime than those without such an injury. The researchers compared the records of every brain injury patient with 10 people who did not suffer such an injury, and found that nearly 9 percent of the brain injury victims had been convicted of a violent crime in the months or years following their diagnosis. In comparison, just 3 percent of the general population had committed a violent crime.

Researchers also compared cases of epilepsy to the general population, and found no significant association between crime and an epilepsy diagnosis.

Following the release of these results, we hope that those who treat brain injury victims in California and throughout the U.S. incorporate a crime risk assessment and some sort of ongoing treatment in order to reduce the risk of violent crimes in brain injury patients.

Source: UKPA, "Head injury 'link' to violent crime," Dec. 27, 2011

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