Objectives: To determine the prevalence rate of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in incarcerated youth and whether frequency and severity of TBI are associated with postconcussion symptoms (PCS), violent offending behaviors, age of first conviction, and substance abuse.
Participants: Sixty-one incarcerated male juvenile offenders with an average age of 16 years.
Main Measures: Self-rated measures of head injury, TBI, PCS (Rivermead Post-concussion Symptoms Questionnaire), history of alcohol and drug use, and criminal history.
Results: More than 70% reported at least 1 head injury at some point in their lives, and 41% reported experiencing a head injury with loss of consciousness. Postconcussion symptoms reliably increased with the frequency and severity of TBI. The relation between frequency and symptoms was mostly accounted for by severity of TBI. Alcohol use reliably increased with the severity of TBI and was associated with PCS. Alcohol use did not account for the dose-response relation between TBI and PCS.
Conclusions: Findings indicate a need to account for TBI in offender populations in managing care needs, which may contribute to reduction in offending behaviors.