Long-Term Impacts Severe Brain Injuries Have on Victims
By Nathan Williams, Staff Writer
While traumatic brain injuries occur rather frequently, most of them are minor. A big hit out on the football field may knock you off your socks for a moment, but usually a single concussion won’t result in a long-term impact. In fact, according to figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, around 75% of brain injuries are mild concussions with by a wide variety of causes.
However, the remaining 25% of TBI cases are considered major or even fatal. Symptoms for minor concussions can include confusion, ringing in the ears, minor balance problems, headaches, difficulty concentrating and more.
For a major TBI though, symptoms are much more intense and can even result in the victim ending up in a coma or having to deal with seizures.
Regardless of the reason for a major traumatic brain injury, the long-term effects on both the patient and his or her family can be tough to handle.
Effects from a traumatic brain injury can be broken into 3 categories: physical, cognitive and behavioral
A brain injury can affect a person in a variety of ways. Sometimes, these effects don’t show up for weeks or even months following an injury.
Physical symptoms are mechanical in nature, and can include headaches, trouble hearing, loss of energy, dizziness and more. For most victims of TBI, the physical symptoms will be the first to go away.
Cognitive effects on the other hand are ones that affect your mental function. Examples can include difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, poor memory and more.
In the long-term, a person recovering from a TBI may think, speak or solve problems much more slowly than before. In the broader context of daily life, this can translate to difficulty keeping a schedule, planning ahead or coordinating complex tasks.
Behavioral effects can be characterized as anything that affects your actions and attitudes. Becoming angry or frustrated very easily, or making decisions without thinking are common behavioral symptoms of a TBI.
Effects stemming from behavioral impacts of a TBI are considered the most difficult. Personality changes can not only have a big impact on the patient, they can also impact relationships with family and friends. Also, individuals will find it difficult to change behavior based on the circumstances – for example, a library is supposed to be quiet, but someone with a severe TBI may not recognize this fact.
Of course, the emotional impact of physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms can lead to depression, which is considered to be the most common symptom of brain injury. According to Dr. Jonathan Silver, MD of the New York University School of Medicine, depression can occur in anywhere from 20-60% of TBI cases.
Training, therapy and other support systems can help someone deal with these long-term impacts.
Also, impacts from a traumatic brain injury vary on a case-by-case basis. Each situation is unique.
The most important thing to remember is to not keep any symptoms to yourself. Doing so can exacerbate these problems and slow your recovery.
Besides family and friends, severe TBI victims should reach out to brain injury support groups in their area. The Brain Injury Association of America for example has chapters in all 50 states and is available to provide direct support, resources, education and advocacy for individuals suffering from the effects of a traumatic brain injury.
Brain injury doesn’t only affect the patient – it can also have a dramatic impact on family and friends. Check out our next post to learn more about these effects and how families can cope with a loved one struck by a TBI.
And if your brain injury was caused by the negligent actions of someone else, we strongly urge you to search our directory today and discuss your case with an attorney in your state.