Over the last several years, researchers have made great strides in understanding the effects of traumatic brain injuries. Now, a new study from the University of South Florida shows that traumatic brain injuries can inflict long-lasting physical damage, including neuronal cell loss, suppressed cell regeneration and chronic inflammation
This physiological damage may lead to deficits in motor and cognitive function, including but not limited to post-traumatic dementia, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. While these conditions may not show up until much later in life, the study indicates that they may be traced directly and causally back to the initial traumatic brain injury.
The continued research in this field would have widespread impact. According to the study's authors, approximately 1.7 million Americans suffer from some form of traumatic brain injury. Moreover, they say that brain injuries are responsible for about 30 percent of deaths attributable to injury. Anything that can further the understanding of the effects of traumatic brain injury would surely improve quality of life and may even prevent some deaths.
In addition, if the study's findings are confirmed, it would mean that damages sought in personal injury cases related to traumatic brain injury could take into account the increased cost of care for individuals with long-term degenerative conditions such as these.
The lasting impact of TBIs
Individuals who suffer a traumatic brain injury as a result of an accident or someone else's negligence may end up needing to pay medical bills for the rest of their lives. Even if degenerative conditions like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease do not develop, victims of severe or repeated brain injuries can face a whole host of long-term complications, including headaches, impaired motor function, impaired cognitive abilities, memory loss and changes in personality. These symptoms can persist long after the acute trauma of the brain injury has healed.
The cost of caring for the injury and its associated complications can be overwhelming. Even people with robust health insurance may find themselves drowning in medical bills. The financial complications can be even more devastating for brain injury victims whose injuries prevent them from working or require them to transition to a lower paying occupation.
As such, it is important for traumatic brain injury victims to understand that the law affords them certain protections. If the brain injury was caused by another person's negligence, the victim can bring a personal injury lawsuit to pursue compensation for damages including past and future medical expenses, lost earnings and pain and suffering.
About calculating medical damages
Medical damages in personal injury cases are calculated based both on how much a victim has paid for medical care and on how much he or she is reasonably expected to have to pay for future care. For victims of severe traumatic brain injury, these costs may need to be extended over an entire life. This means that the increased chance of developing degenerative conditions and other complications will have to be taken into account.
This issue highlights the importance of working with an experienced personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to marshal the evidence and expert testimony necessary to show the true cost of a brain injury victim's future care.