Kenneth Goldblatt | October 20, 2018 | Personal Injury
People who suffer traumatic brain injuries face an elevated risk of death for years to come, according to a new study based onfour decades of data on hundreds of thousand of patients.
Those who survived the immediate aftermath of moderate and severe traumatic brain injuries were three times more likely than people without such injuries to die prematurely.
Experts said the study was likely to spur calls for long-term monitoring of some brain injury patients. By virtue of its size and scope, the analysis, puts an authoritative stamp on a growing body of evidence that impacts to the brain can be deadly in ways that are not easily apparent.
“I don’t think you can get much more valuable or detailed data,” said a brain trauma expert who was not involved in the study.
The team focused on brain injuries involving skull fractures, internal bleeding or loss of consciousness for more than an hour.
Though scientists have suspected that brain trauma is associated with an increased risk of early death, proving it requires long-term data in a large population.
The analysis studied patients born after 1953 who were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries other than concussions from 1969 to 2009 and survived at least six months after their injuries.
A total of 2,378 — or 1.1% — died before age 56. That was three times the rate in a control group of 2.2 million people withoutsuch injuries. The comparison took into account age, sex, income and other demographic factors.
Their fatal accident rate was more than quadruple that of the control group, and their suicide rate was more than triple.
Death rates remained elevated even five years after the brain injuries occurred.
Moreover, the researchers compared 150,513 of the brain injury patients with their siblings without brain injuries. Even thoughsiblings share a large portion of their DNA and many of the same childhood experiences — factors that shape personality and strongly influence mortality — the brain injury patients were 2.5 times more likely to die early.
A traumatic brain injury researcher said the results suggested that the brain injury itself increased the risk of mortality. Many of the injuries occur in parts of the brain responsible for judgment, executive function and impulse control.
“If these people are higher risk takers and have frontal temporal cortex injuries that exacerbate the problems, it’s not surprising that they have higher rates of suicide,”
Current clinical guidelines for treating traumatic brain injuries focus on short-term survival.
One cost-effective approach would be screening brain injury patients for personality traits, psychiatric disorders or substance abuse problems that would place them at the greatest risk, then treating them with anti-depressants or other therapies.
The researchers conducted a separate analysis of 333,118 people who were diagnosed with concussions and found that they were twice as likely as a control group to die early. But that part of the study did not control for psychiatric disorders or include a comparison to siblings.
Traumatic brain injury can have long lasting consequences for the victim in extensive medical bills and post treatment. To learn more about Traumatic Brain Injury, contact the New York brain injury lawyers at Goldblatt and Associates to schedule a free consultation. We serve accident victims in New York including New York City, Bronx, Brooklyn, Westchester and Putnam Counties, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. We offer a free consultation, and receive no fee unless we are successful. Call 1-800-567-9888 today.