The cost of traumatic brain injuries

Various factors can impact the financial burden that comes with a brain injury.

Despite medical advances, we have yet to know the full extent of damage done by traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). This is concerning as these injuries are not uncommon. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that millions suffer from these injuries every year. Furthermore, the injuries are on the rise. From 2007 to 2013 the agency reports a 47 percent increase in hospital visits for these injuries. As noted in a previous piece, Alaska has some of the highest TBI rates in the nation.

A recent story provides an example of how little we know about these injuries. It involves a woman that was injured in an accident and suffered a brain injury. Her doctors did not believe she would recover from the brain injury. They recommended that the family follow the patient's do not resuscitate (DNR) request and end life support.

The family agreed. What followed next was unexpected. Instead of the anticipated slow decline, the woman began to recover. Just days later she emerged from her coma and began to speak.

The road to recovery was a long one. The woman needed physical therapy at a rehabilitation center in another state. In addition to physical therapy she also needed recreational, occupational and speech therapy. She needed to relearn everything. This woman will continue to need rehabilitation and surgical procedures to address the damage caused by the TBI. Doctors expect it will take at least two years to address the physical healing alone.

The story provides an example of the extent of damage caused by brain injuries. These injuries often require more than just a surgical procedure and an overnight stay in the hospital to ensure recovery. Additional rehabilitation is common and effects can last for years after the accident.

How can a family prepare for the costs that could come if a loved one suffers a brain injury? Unfortunately, it is difficult to plan for the exact cost of these injuries as precise numbers remain unknown. Families can take a few things into consideration when attempting to get an idea of the potential financial burden.

The National Institutes of Health published a piece addressing this issue, noting that in addition to the severity of the injury, the cost is generally impacted by three factors: need for assistance after the injury, employability after the accident and the presence of help from friends and family members. The greater role these factors play in a victim's life, the lower the financial burden. However, even with a strong support system and optimistic recovery, these injuries take a large economic toll on the victim and his or her family.

What causes these injuries? TBIs result from an impact to the head. The CDC has found that falls and motor vehicle accidents are two of the most common causes of these injuries.

Are legal remedies available for victims? It depends on the details of the accident that led to the injury. If the accident was the fault of another, legal remedies may exist. These may be available through a personal injury lawsuit. This can result in monetary awards that can help cover the rehabilitation and medical costs that come with these injuries.

Those who are injured due to the fault of another are wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in these matters can review your case and provide guidance, working to better ensure you receive the legal remedies you are entitled.