The causes and costs of traumatic brain injuries
People in Southern and Central California have known since at least elementary school that the brain is an important part of the body.
It is also one of the most vulnerable, such that many people have probably experienced or known someone who has experienced a concussion, which is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury, or TBI.
Even mild TBIs can lead to serious problems that can last for weeks or even months.
In addition to experiencing headaches, tiredness, poor coordination and other sensory issues, a person with a mild TBI can also experience memory and concentration problems. Anxiety and depression are also common symptoms.
Research also suggests that mild TBIs can cause cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, later in a person’s life.
More severe brain injuries can leave a person suffering from these symptoms permanently. In some cases, the victim may be a comatose or semi-comatose state or may have such limited mental function that he or she will need constant medical care.
In short, any TBI is a serious affair that will require expensive medical care and, quite possibly weeks or even months off of work, assuming the victim can go back to work at all.
Common causes of TBIs
The most common causes of TBIs vary by the age of the victim. For instance, falling is a common reason for a fatal TBI among adults over 60. For younger people, including children and teens, injuries related to sports are a common cause of brain injuries.
However, on the whole, anywhere between half and 70% of all TBIs happen because of motor vehicle accidents.
Not all TBIs are caused by the negligence of another person, but many of them are. By way of example, many motor vehicle accidents happen because one driver was careless, inattentive, reckless or broke a traffic law. Brain injuries which happen after such accidents could have been avoided had the other driver exercised greater caution.
The toll of TBIs
Traumatic brain injuries put an enormous financial burden on the economy, costing up to $56 billion.
Likewise, the human toll TBI’s inflict each year are profound. Experts estimate that annually, up to 90,000 people suffer from either a permanent or long-term disability due to a TBI. Additionally, about 50,000 die from a TBI each year.
Moreover, tens of thousands of more people have to visit the hospital for a TBI annually, even if they ultimately recover. The number of hospitalizations for TBIs is 20 times higher than the number for spinal cord injuries.