How Can A Brain Injury Affect You Later In Life?
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death for young people from infancy to age 44 in the United States and also causes a significant number of disabilities. The elderly are also a population particularly vulnerable to brain injuries. While many aspects of the recovery process after a TBI depend on the severity and type of injury, with therapies and treatment, many TBI injury victims fully recover or regain a good degree of function. However, some brain injuries have long-term effects and can impact sufferers later in life. Even relatively mild concussions may affect individuals in unanticipated ways as time goes on.
Our team of Birmingham brain injury lawyers recommend reading and understanding the full extent of a brain injury including the long term effects. If you or a loved one has experienced a brain injury, it’s important to know how the injury could affect you later in life and how to minimize the effects for the best possible health and cognitive outcomes.
Can A Brain Injury Lead To Dementia?
Recent research shows that brain injuries have long-lasting effects, including a connection to dementia later in life. This risk increases in relation to the number of injuries sustained. The study followed participants for 25 years and its findings reveal that even a single head injury increases the risk of later dementia by about 1.25 times. Two or more head injuries increase the risk of later dementia over 2 times compared to those who didn’t suffer head injuries.
What Are The Long Term Effects of a Mild Head Injury or Concussion?
Most victims of mild concussions have relatively minor symptoms in the days following the injury, including headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and vision problems, after which they recover. But a growing body of research reveals potential long-term effects. For example, follow-up studies of over 160,000 head trauma patients over age 65 showed a 22 to 26% increase in the development of dementia during a five to seven-year period after the injury.
Further studies show that concussions have a cumulative effect on those with repeated injuries. For example, football players and boxers with repeated concussions show a 3-times higher rate of deaths due to neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Repetitive concussions are also associated with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This is a progressive neurodegenerative disease similar to Alzheimer’s. In fact, CTE was first identified during a study of the brain of long-time NFL football player, Mike Webster. The scientists identified a specific protein that formed in the brain, similar to that found in Alzheimer’s. That substance—known as CTE—has since been identified in 110 brains of football players out of 111 players who donated their brains after death for scientific research.
Long-Term Impacts of Other Brain Injuries
Many of the long-term impacts of brain injuries depend on the location of the injury within the brain. When the left side of the brain endures a traumatic injury, it can cause long-term problems with the following:
- Logical thinking
- Difficulty understanding others.
Trauma to the right side of the brain has different long-term consequences including:
- Difficulty processing visual information
- Difficulty performing routine tasks, such as being able to say that a fork is a fork, but not remembering how to use one.
Trauma to the brain’s frontal lobe or the region behind the forehead may result in the following:
- Problems with planning, reasoning, and impulse control
- Difficulty with problem-solving
- Behavioral changes
- Risky or inappropriate behaviors
The Birmingham personal injury attorneys at our firm know that some people who sustain brain injuries make full recoveries but may experience impacts later in life, while others are left with permanent impairments and disabilities. Most people who suffer significant brain injuries require long-term treatments and ongoing care.