Can Head Trauma Trigger Episodes?
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Q:  Can Head Trauma Trigger Episodes?

My husband has played professional football for 11 years. He recently retired due to post concussion syndrome. He has had at least 9 serious concussions over the last 11 years. Although CT scans and MRIs showed no physical damage to the brain, I sincerely believe that these concussions brought about the bipolar disorder that he was recently diagnosed with. Or at least made it much, much worse. Can head trauma trigger episodes? I also read about a new type of MRI that shows the connective tissues of the brain and how these tissues are damaged by head trauma (while the traditional MRI shows no damage). I'm just sensing a connection and wanted to get your thoughts.

Thank you for your time.

Dear Amy -- 
Head trauma has definitely been associated with bipolar disorder, particularly onset of symptoms after age 30 or so. Here's a
reference article in case you need it. Watching the World Cup soccer lately, and watching all those headers of balls kicked nearly the length of the field (return velocity presumably close to that with which it left the goalie's foot) -- over and over in a single game -- sure makes me glad my kids don't seem headed for professional soccer. So to speak. 

Dr. Phelps

Published Sept. 2006


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