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The catastrophic costs of traumatic brain injury

Arizona residents who become the victim of a traumatic brain injury face not only catastrophic physical and mental consequences, but also catastrophic financial consequences. The Mayo Clinic defines a TBI as an injury to the body, particularly the head, that causes dysfunction of the brain.

Most TBIs happen when the victim receives a violent blow to his or her head, usually as the result of a fall. However, a TBI also can occur as the result of the following:

  • A sports injury, such as a concussion sustained during a football, baseball or basketball game
  • A vehicle accident, including car, truck, motorcycle and bicycle accidents or being a pedestrian struck by one of these vehicles
  • An explosive blast that occurs at work or while in combat
  • An act of violence, particularly being shot

TBI symptoms

No two TBIs are alike and symptoms can vary by type, severity and length of time before they resolve, assuming they do. Typical symptoms include the following:

  • Headache, nausea and vomiting
  • Dazedness, confusion and disorientation
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus; i.e., constant ringing in the ears
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Mood swings, sometimes severe

TBI victims often suffer ongoing and progressively worsening depression and anxiety. They also are far more prone than the general population to develop such debilitating conditions as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In the most severe TBI cases, the victim will slip into a coma and ultimately die.

Post-injury costs

In addition to having to deal with the TBI and its consequences, victims and their families also are left to deal with the catastrophic costs that a TBI can entail. The Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital estimates that someone receiving a TBI in his or her 20s can face annual medical, rehabilitation and assisted living costs of $500,000, totaling to $15 to $20 million over their remaining lifetime.

That is without considering the costs to the victim’s family. Since many TBI victims are unable to work and require daily care, and since insurance benefits soon run out, a family member often must quit his or own job so as to stay home with the disabled loved one. Nationwide, these “hidden” costs are estimated to be $375 billion annually.

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