Traumatic Brain Injury and the Risk of Health Impacts Later in Life

Brain injuries remain one of the most serious - and most common - types of injury suffered by the American public. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, 1.7 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury every year.

Many studies suggest that victims of traumatic brain injury face ongoing risks that include greater-than-average odds of developing premature dementia in old age. For those who sustain a traumatic brain injury, the prospect of long-term health consequences makes full compensation especially important.

Brain injury victims may face double, even quadruple risk of dementia

A recent study published in the medical journal Archives of Neurology consolidated multiple epidemiologic studies that found a link between experiencing a traumatic brain injury in early or midlife and an increased risk of dementia later in life. According to the authors, the best information available indicates that moderate and severe traumatic brain injuries increase the risk of dementia by two to four times.

Future dementia risk appears greatest following a severe head injury that causes unconsciousness for more than a day. Moderate head injuries - those that cause unconsciousness for more than 30 minutes but less than 24 hours - also seem to increase dementia risk, albeit to a lesser extent. There is no evidence that a single head injury that knocks you out for less than 30 minutes increases your chances of developing dementia later in life - but, researchers note that this may be because mild head injuries are typically not well documented and there is a lack of reliable medical studies on the subject.

Compensation may be available to help with long-term costs of brain injury

Those suffering from dementia may display a variety of symptoms, such as problems thinking clearly, memory loss, mood swings and erratic behavior. Treatment costs can be substantial, especially as a patient's condition deteriorates later in life.

Car accidents are by far the most common cause of traumatic injuries; just over half of the traumatic brain injuries sustained in the United States are caused by motor vehicle accidents. In many car accidents, insurers and/or the at-fault driver can be held liable for resulting injury. For traumatic brain injury victims, this means there may be resources available to help pay for the long-term consequences of their injury.

If you or a family member has sustained a traumatic brain injury, it is important to collect the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled. Since some of the symptoms of brain injury do not arise for months or even years after an accident, insurers may try to undervalue injury claims. By retaining a personal injury attorney, you can help ensure you recover the full monetary damages you will need to address the lifelong effects of brain injury.

Junior Seau suit against the NFL high-profile example of brain injury litigation

Last May, former NFL linebacker Junior Seau died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. An autopsy revealed that the 20-year NFL veteran suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease that may be caused by repeat head injuries. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy can lead to irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression.

On January 23, Seau's family filed a lawsuit against the NFL and helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc., alleging that their failure to address the risks of head injury ultimately contributed to Junior Seau's death. Seau's family is not alone; according to a review conducted by the Associated Press, more than 3,800 players have sued the NFL over head injuries.

From pro athletes to young children involved in car accidents, anyone who suffers a brain injury is at risk of suffering long-term consequences. Sometimes, holding responsible parties accountable is the only way to begin setting things right.