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New Study Reveals TBI Patients 3 Times More Likely To Die Young

Published January 22, 2014 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney
Brain injury

Sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be devastating. The issue has made headlines lately, with German Formula One race car driver Michael Schumacher suffering a TBI this winter and the recent $765 million settlement between the National Football League (NFL) and football players over head injuries sustained on the gridiron. Now, a new study reveals that people who have suffered a TBI are three times more likely to die young.

Research Spanned Over 40 Years

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that researchers from Oxford University reviewed the medical records of 218,300 people born after 1953 who had suffered a TBI between the years 1969 and 2009. What they discovered was that those people had a three times greater chance of dying young, which is defined as before 56 years old. The report also revealed that those who died early and had a TBI were more likely to have committed suicide, be a victim of an assault or have a fatal injury.

Researchers reviewed the death rates and data on how TBI patients died and looked at their sex, age of death, severity of brain injury and how the diagnosis played a role in the patients’ outcomes. They compared siblings when one had suffered a TBI and the others did not, which allowed them to control for genetic factors and issues related to early upbringing. They concluded that TBI victims had a:

  • 3 times greater chance of dying young.
  • 2.6 times greater chance of dying younger than their siblings who had not suffered a TBI.
  • 20 times greater chance of dying young when previously diagnosed with psychiatric disorders.

Researchers say that TBIs basically change how the brain’s operating system (neural network) functions, which makes it more difficult for patients to use their judgment and adjust to new situations. Unfortunately, this may be the case for German Formula One race car driver Michael Schumacher, whose doctors say that if he does recover, he may never be the same person mentally.

The Sad Reality of TBIs

TBIs can happen when there is rapid acceleration and deceleration of the brain in a violent accident that causes a blow to the head. TBIs can include shearing (or tearing) of nerve fibers, contusions (bruising) of the brain tissue against the skull, brain stem injuries and edema (swelling).

From a medical standpoint, the long-term effects of a traumatic brain or head injury can include cognitive problems, reduction in motor skills and other very serious physical deficits. From a financial standpoint, the expenses can be just as significant. In fact, the lifetime expense to care for someone with a brain injury is estimated to be $2 million or more, on average.

When TBIs are the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover damages including:

  • Medical costs
  • Pain and suffering (physical and emotional)
  • Loss of current and future earnings
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Punitive damages (in some cases)

In addition, families of victims may be entitled additional compensation if they are forced to change their lifestyles in order to care for their loved one. An experienced New York brain injury lawyer can analyze your situation so that you can make an informed decision about what is right for you and your family.

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