People who suffer from traumatic brain injuries face an increased risk of death from suicide or accidents, a new study based on four decades of data reports. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, those who survived traumatic brain injuries are three times more likely than people without such injuries to die prematurely or before the age of 56. Researchers gathered data for this study over 40 years from hundreds of thousands of patients in Sweden.
The Study and Its Conclusions
Experts said the results of this study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, call for long-term monitoring of some brain injury patients. The team of British and Swedish researchers narrowed in on brain injuries involving skull fractures, internal bleeding or loss of consciousness. But the data also suggested that concussions do similar damage. Concussions are become a growing concern in the military and contact sports.
The analysis studied all 218,300 Swedes born after 1953 who were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries other than concussions from 1969 to 2009 and survived at least six months after their injuries. About 1.1 percent died before age 56, which was three times the rate in a control group of 2.2 million people without such injuries. In the group with the brain injury survivors, 574 resulted from various types of accidents and 522 were suicides. Their fatal accident rate was four times that of the control group and suicide rate was more than triple.
The Impact of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Thanks to these studies, we are learning that even so-called “minor traumatic brain injuries” such as concussions can have catastrophic or lifelong consequences. Auto accidents are the second most common cause of traumatic brain injuries right behind falls. There is also increased awareness among our youth sports communities and the military about the impact of head injuries.
The next step will be to determine ways to prevent these types of injuries especially in areas where they are preventable. As a California personal injury lawyer who represents victims of catastrophic injuries, I’m well aware of the impact head injuries have on not only victims, but also their families. In addition to skyrocketing expenses and financial commitments, families also suffer significant emotional trauma as they deal with behavioral and other changes in their injured loved one. It is important that these individuals and families have access to the medical, financial and legal resources they need to surmount what can be a formidable challenge.