Traumatic brain injuries, also known as TBIs, can be incredibly serious and may require significant medical treatment to recover from. TBIs are caused by bumps, blows, or jolts to the head or by penetration injuries (ex. gunshot wounds) to the head. Thousands of deaths are linked to severe TBIs in the United States each year. TBI victims who survive may be left with long-term health problems that can affect every part of their lives. These health problems are similar to those experienced by people who have chronic illnesses and must be consistently managed to allow for as close to normal life as possible. When you or a loved one experiences a traumatic brain injury, you will want to have the best medical care possible. This means medical bills may pile up and can become a financial burden to you and your family. If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury caused by a negligent party, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help.
Traumatic Brain Injuries Cause Serious Damage
TBIs are commonly caused by motor vehicle accidents, personal assaults, falls (especially for adults over the age of 75), and gunshot wounds. A TBI disrupts normal brain function and can range from mild to moderate, to severe, and even fatal. TBIs commonly affect cognitive function in the brain, which means a person who has a TBI may experience difficulty with their memory, paying attention, and processing daily information. A person with a TBI may not be able to clearly communicate, problem-solve, or use reasoning skills. Motor functions can also be affected as TBI victims can experience weakness in their extremities, problems with balance, and a lack of normal coordination. Losing a sense of physical control is often one of the most frustrating parts of a TBI.
Commonly used senses of touch, hearing, smell, and taste can all be affected by a TBI. Depending on what part of the brain has been damaged, a TBI victim can lose one or more of these sensations which can be incredibly devastating. A loved one may not be able to taste their favorite food or listen to their favorite song anymore which can quickly lead to depression and anxiety. Personality and behavioral changes are also commonly seen in TBI victims. A normally confident and calm individual who experiences brain trauma may become more prone to anger, impatience, and irritability depending on the severity of their injury. The brain can usually recover, over long periods of time, from these types of injuries, however, it will take significant medical care and recovery efforts that can be extremely costly.
Types of Treatment for a TBI
Medical professionals take multiple approaches to treating traumatic brain injuries. The methods chosen depend upon the severity of the TBI and the symptoms the victim presents. TBIs do not have a quick fix treatment and can take months if not years to recover from. Many physicians start with medications to help treat the symptoms of a TBI. Expensive medications may help treat symptoms, but they can cost more than some victims can afford.
Commonly prescribed medications may include:
- Pain management medications
- Anti-seizure medications
- Anti-psychotic medications
- Motor system medication
- Memory and cognition medication
Trips to the pharmacy will become a regular occurrence as the pill bottles pile up. Many brain injury victims rely on their medications to control pain, prevent muscle tremors, and keep their depression and anxiety under control. Medications that manage a victim’s TBI require immediate purchase and payment.
Another medical treatment method doctors recommend for TBI is participating in different types of physical and psychological therapy. Many brain injury victims participate in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, counseling, and cognitive rehabilitation. Taking part in these types of therapies requires persistence and can feel tedious to both the patient and the therapy provider. Many TBI victims will want to give up on their therapy efforts as results will not be immediately seen. TBI victims who have a strong support system through family and friends will have the best success with therapy efforts.
For severe TBIs, doctors may perform emergency surgery to reduce the possibility of additional damage to the brain. These types of surgeries occur when a blood clot must be removed, the victim’s skull is severely damaged and requires repair, or there is significant pressure inside the victim’s skull that needs to be released for the victim to survive. These surgeries can mean life or death for a TBI victim and may require a long hospital stay and significant recovery efforts that are incredibly expensive.
Costs Associated with a TBI
The costs associated with treating a TBI vary depending on the severity of the injury. Mild TBIs may require multiple doctor visits and some prescription medications but may not involve extensive therapies. Moderate TBIs are often associated with long-term recovery efforts, including months or even years of medications and therapies. Severe brain damage could require round-the-clock care that costs thousands of dollars a month; and, that cost does not even include any home modifications, mobility assist devices, or more accessible transportation. These ongoing costs can quickly escalate to hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each year. Victims with severe TBIs may not be able to return to work leaving them financially dependent upon others in their family. It is estimated that the potential lifetime economic cost of TBIs across the country is estimated to be over $75 billion.