Over 5 million Americans have suffered a traumatic brain injury, or a TBI, and are living with disabilities that range from minor to severe. TBI patients who survive face a lifetime of consequences that affect every aspect of their lives, including the ability to work, drive, maintain a household and take care of themselves. As if that weren’t bad enough, family members and friends of the injured also experience lasting effects.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBIs cause one-third of all injury-related deaths in the United States – 153 per day. But many TBIs are not fatal. In 2013, the latest year for which statistics are available, TBIs killed 50,000 while requiring over 280,000 hospitalizations and 2.5 million emergency-room visits. More figures worth noting:
- The rate of TBIs in those ages 45 to 65 has increased 25 percent, to 79 per 100,000.
- The rate of TBIs in those older than 65 has increased 50 percent, to 294 per 100,000.
- The rate of TBIs in those ages 5 to 14 has decreased 50 percent, to 23 per 100,000.
“A severe TBI not only impacts the life of an individual and their family, but it also has a large societal and economic toll,” the CDC points out that the annual economic toll of such injuries – medical costs both direct and indirect – tops $76 billion.
Life-care plans add to the costs, although they are a critical element in any TBI case. Life-care plans encompass a comprehensive, detailed outline of what a TBI patient needs now and in the future. They generally are addressed by the plaintiff’s attorney during litigation. They include medical, psychiatric, rehabilitative and other needs and whether the patient will live at home or in an institution. Projected costs that are transparent, true and consider the possibility of more (or less) care as the years progress are part of the process.
Some symptoms TBI patients encounter are acute fatigue, chronic headaches, loss of consciousness, paralysis, seizures and trouble sleeping. Those are the physical symptoms. Emotional symptoms occur, as well. Aggressiveness. Denial. Depression. Cognitively, the injured might have difficulty reading, talking or thinking, memory loss and shortened attention spans. Combine all of those symptoms with the probability of balance issues and impaired senses (sight, smell, sound, taste and touch), and it becomes obvious that the road ahead will be a long one.
“While there is no one size fits all solution, there are interventions that can be effective to help limit the impact of this injury,” the CDC states. “CDC has multiple education and awareness efforts to help improve primary prevention of severe TBI, as well as those that promote early identification and appropriate care.”