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Dealing with the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury

A serious accident, whether from a car crash, sports injury, fall or violent incident, can result in traumatic brain injury. There are varying severity levels of a TBI, and a moderate or severe brain injury often results in life-long issues.

A victim of a TBI will usually need long-term, ongoing care even after there is a stabilization of the injury.

Common long-term effects

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients with moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries are at high risk of disability and even death. Although anyone suffering from a brain injury can have long-term effects, there are certain groups of people who are at higher risk:

  • Ethnic and racial minorities
  • Partner violence survivors
  • Homeless people
  • People living in rural communities
  • Veterans and service members
  • Those in correctional facilities

The Mayo Clinic outlines some of the physical and mental effects for someone who survives a TBI. Physical complications may include balance issues, seizures, speech problems, hearing loss, dizziness and frequent headaches.

There are also often intellectual, communication and behavioral issues. Examples include difficulty participating in conversations, verbal outbursts, self-control issues, difficulty speaking, memory problems, judgment issues, problem-solving difficulties and mood swings.

Lifelong care for TBI victims

Immediately after a person suffers from a brain injury, emergency care is necessary and often includes surgery, medication and intensive care. After the situation begins to stabilize, in-hospital rehabilitation starts.

Once a patient is well enough to leave the hospital, rehab generally continues to help the patient relearn basic skills. Some people only need it for a few months or years, while others require it for life. Examples of potential rehab services include speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, neuropsychology, social work and vocational counseling.