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What Are the Long-Term Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

October 25, 2021 Traumatic Brain Injury Blog

A mild or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can affect a victim’s life for years. Fortunately, it is estimated that 70 to 95 percent of TBIs are mild, and victims recover quickly without any long-term effects. However, moderate to severe TBIs can have a lasting impact and create cognitive, physical, behavioral, sensory, and financial challenges. Here, our San Diego brain injury lawyers discuss the long-term effects of mild and moderate traumatic brain injuries.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Long-Term Effects of a Mild TBI

Many people who suffer a mild TBI can recover within three months, but most are typically back to normal by six months. Any symptoms that linger past six months will normally disappear or considerably improve within a year of the injury.

The symptoms from a mild TBI can make it challenging for victims to perform daily activities easily, such as work or even relaxing at home. Headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, etc., are common. Symptoms can worsen, or new ones may develop when victims push themselves too fast.

In addition, the added stress from being unable to work with hospital bills adding up can exacerbate symptoms. To recover faster, victims must pace themselves to gradually get back to normal life.

Long-Term Effects of a Moderate to Severe TBI

The effects of a moderate to severe TBI can last an extended period of time and may even be permanent. Recovery is possible, but some symptoms may never disappear. Most people with this type of brain injury will have to adjust to a new way of life with additional challenges when it comes to living independently, keeping a job, communicating effectively, socializing and more. For example:

Cognitive Issues

Long-term problems with memory, paying attention and carrying out everyday tasks, planning, goal setting, organizing, making rational decisions, etc. As a result, victims often require the assistance of other people.

Physical Disabilities

Victims may suffer long-term physical symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, cranial nerve damage, loss of balance, speech problems, difficulty swallowing, paralysis, and more. Some of these effects can disappear after several years, but they can prevent victims from completing daily activities and having a normal lifestyle.

Behavioral Challenges

Increased agitation, combativeness, irritability, stress disorders, impulsivity, and severe mood changes can impact a victim’s social life and ability to maintain relationships.

Sensory Problems

Any damage to the brain can result in sensory problems since the brain and the spinal cord form the central nervous system. The issues will vary based on the part of the brain impacted. Still, common problems include being uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and/or distressed by exposure to normal, everyday levels of particular stimuli (e.g., bright lights, loud noises, or touch).

A moderate to severe TBI will most likely create dependence on a caregiver or family member, in addition to the physical pain and limitations. As a result, these newfound hardships can take a toll mentally and may lead to fluctuating emotions and depression.

The Long Term Cost of A Brain Injury

Depending on the severity of a TBI, the lifetime medical costs and living expenses can range anywhere from $85,000 up to $4 million. These estimates do not include losses related to wages, employee benefits, and productivity

Even if the brain injury is mild, it will often cost an average of $15,000 for extensive medical care and ongoing therapy to ensure a full recovery. The most devastating financial costs typically occur within the first year. For moderate to severe TBIs, the first-year averages $196,000 for immediate care and rehabilitation. After hospitalization, the estimated medical and non-medical expenses in the first year are a little over $151,000 for insurance, vocational rehabilitation, mandatory home modifications, etc.