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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Black man in an army uniform sitting on a couch touching his head facing a woman in a suit holding a clipboard

Over the last 20 years, more than one million Americans have sustained a fatal traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, the effects of even mild cases can be far-reaching. TBI survivors can be left with short and long-term memory problems which can change how a person thinks, acts, feels, and learns. This, in turn, can interfere with a person’s life, including the ability to work and the ability to build and maintain relationships with others.

Who is Most Affected by TBI?

Anyone is at risk for a TBI, however, some groups have a greater likelihood of dying or living with long-term effects resulting from the injury. Common risk factors include higher rates of car crashes, substance use, suicide, difficulty accessing appropriate healthcare, and poor psychosocial, functional, and employment-related outcomes after sustaining a TBI.

Military Service Members and Veterans

From 2000 to 2019, more than 400,000 service members in the United States were diagnosed with a TBI, largely due to the military conflicts from 2005 to 2018 that increased the number of diagnoses. Among active service members and veterans living with a TBI, approximately 80% resulted from car crash injuries or others that occurred when they were not deployed.

Studies show that people in this group who sustain a TBI may:

  • Experience ongoing symptoms;
  • Have comorbidities (multiple health conditions), like depression and PTSD
  • Have decreased access to healthcare (especially care for mental health concerns); and
  • Have higher reports of thinking about/planning self-harm.

People in Correctional or Detention Facilities

Recent studies suggest that almost half (46%) of the people in correctional or detention facilities, such as prisons and jails, have a history of TBI. Although the exact number is not known, research shows a correlation between people in correctional or detention facilities with a history of TBI and:

  • Mental health conditions, such as severe depression and anxiety;
  • Substance use disorders;
  • Anger management; and
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts.

However, those in correctional or detention facilities with notable symptoms of TBI may not be screened. They may additionally face challenges with getting care for a TBI, which may continue even after they have been released.

People Experiencing Homelessness

Compared to the general population, people who experience homelessness are two-to-four times more likely to have a history of TBI and up to 10 times more likely to have a history of a moderate or severe TBI. Statistically speaking, people who experience homelessness and have a history of TBI often have worse overall physical/mental health and are more likely to report experiencing violence and/or trauma during childhood, substance use, and suicidal thoughts.

Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

Survivors of intimate partner violence (often referred to as domestic violence) who have sustained a TBI due to an assault are more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD, insomnia, and depression and report worse overall health.

Uninsured TBI Survivors or Those With Lower Incomes May Have Financial Barriers to TBI Care.

It can be a long road to recovery for some survivors of moderate or severe TBI, especially if they require additional healthcare services like physical therapy or mental health treatments. Survivors with lower income or who are uninsured often have a financial barrier to accessing appropriate care and treatment for their TBI. When compared to patients with private health insurance, uninsured TBI survivors are:

  • Less likely to receive procedures like certain brain surgeries;
  • Less likely to receive other inpatient services like rehabilitation; and
  • Are more likely to die in the hospital.

Fatal TBIs Are More Common Among People in Rural Areas

People living in rural areas have a greater risk of dying from a traumatic brain injury compared to those in urban areas. Some reasons for this include:

  • Increased response time from emergency medical services or time needed to travel to emergency medical care;
  • Less access or availability of Level I trauma centers (the highest level of medical care); and
  • Difficulty accessing needed services, such as specialized TBI care.

Children living in these areas are also more likely to sustain a TBI and die as a result of this injury compared to children living in urban areas. These children may also be more likely to:

  • Experience delays in TBI-related care; and
  • Be unnecessarily transferred to another hospital for TBI-related care

The attorneys at Bertoldo Carter Smith & Cullen are here for you in your time of need. If you sustain a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of another individual, we can help you seek justice. Schedule a free consultation with our team by calling (702) 505-8115.