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Recovering from brain injuries: A slow and expensive process

Slow recovery and damage to cognitive and physical function are hallmarks of a traumatic brain injury. Massachusetts patients recovering from TBIs also may face additional stress because of the medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury as well as a loss of income during and even after the healing period.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that in 30 percent of deaths from injury, TBIs play a role, making such brain injuries a significant contributor not only to hospitalization and disability but also to deaths in the United States. The most recent numbers suggest that doctors around the nation see more than 2.8 million deaths, emergency room visits and other hospitalizations related to serious brain injuries.

A large portion of these TBIs are caused by falls, particularly among persons over the age of 75. Vehicle crashes also are a common factor leading to TBIs among patients 15 years of age and older. Depending upon the severity of the injury and the success of treatments, survivors may recover within a few days or face lifelong consequences related to cognitive function, sensory abilities and physical capabilities.

According to BrainLine, many TBI survivors face high emotional stress in addition to temporary or long-lasting physical challenges. TBIs can have serious implications for mental health and commonly lead to anger, anxiety and depression. In the hospital and during recovery, patients also may feel overwhelmed or confused by the experience or frustrated by loss of ability, particularly because the brain takes a long time to heal. At times, the injury can have a serious impact on the patient’s relationships with friends and family, and even patients who make a full recovery may find neuropsychological treatment beneficial.

Patients who experience lasting consequences from TBIs are also faced with the task of adjusting to significant life changes across months or years. This may involve incorporating rehabilitation and medical check-ups into one’s routine. Ongoing care can be expensive, particularly when patients are unable to work during recovery, experience career interruptions or lose their jobs following the injury.

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