A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can potentially have lifelong implications that affect a victim physically, cognitively, behaviorally or emotionally. Fortunately, most TBIs that occur are mild with a higher chance of a full recovery, but with a moderate to severe TBI, there is a considerable risk of lasting effects.
Potential Lasting Effects of a Mild TBI
Those who suffer a mild TBI can typically expect to recover within three months, and most are back to normal by six months. Symptoms that linger beyond that will generally disappear or considerably improve within one year of the initial injury.
However, symptoms from a mild TBI can prohibit victims from engaging in daily activities successfully. Headaches, irritability, difficulty concentrating, etc. can make work or even relaxing at home a challenge. Symptoms can also worsen, or new ones may develop when victims do not receive the rest they need and push themselves too fast.
Potential Lasting Effects of a Moderate to Severe TBI
A moderate to severe TBI can impact a victim’s life over a much more extended period and in extreme cases, forever. Some symptoms may never disappear, and most people will have to adjust to a new way of life depending on the extent and location of the damage to their brain. For example, victims may experience the following effects:
Long-term problems with memory, paying attention, and carrying out everyday tasks, including organizing, planning, goal setting, making rational decisions, and more. Because of this, victims often require other people to assist them.
Victims may suffer long-term physical symptoms, such as headaches, sleep changes, dizziness, seizures, cranial nerve damage, loss of balance, speech problems, difficulty swallowing, paralysis, among others. Some of these effects can disappear or improve after several years, but there is no guarantee. As a result, victims are often prevented from living a normal lifestyle and completing daily activities independently.
A moderate to severe TBI can have a long-term effect on a victim’s social life and their ability to maintain relationships. Often it is due to increased agitation, irritability, combativeness, stress disorders, impulsivity, and severe mood changes.
Since the brain and spinal cord form the central nervous system, any damage often causes sensory problems. These issues vary based on the part of the brain impacted but commonly include extreme sensitivity to light, noises, or touch that is part of everyday life, being uncomfortable, and easily overwhelmed.
Victims living with a moderate to severe TBI must often rely on a family member or caregiver due to their physical, cognitive, behavioral or emotional limitations. As a result, these drastic lifestyle changes can take a further toll on mental health, often leading to depression, anxiety, and fluctuating emotions.
The Long Term Financial Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury
The lifetime medical costs and living expenses can range anywhere from $85,000 up to $4 million, depending on the severity of a TBI. Shockingly, these estimates do not include losses related to income, employee benefits, and productivity. On average, a mild brain injury costs $15,000 for extensive medical care and ongoing therapy to ensure a full recovery. For moderate to severe TBIs, the first year costs close to $200,000 on average for immediate care and rehabilitation. The estimated medical and non-medical expenses in the first year after hospitalization is over $150,000.