The number of people being treated in emergency rooms for traumatic brain injuries is on the rise, according to the results of a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh found the number of TBI-related visits to emergency departments jumped 30 percent between 2006 and 2010, culminating in 2.5 million visits by the end of the study period. During the same timeframe, overall visits to ERs increased by only 3.6 percent.
The increases in TBIs were primarily noted in children and elderly patients, according to the findings.
Several Factors Could Be Causing Spike in TBI-Related ER Visits
The study’s authors say the rise in emergency room visits for head injuries could be the result of several factors.
Heightened publicity about head injuries and concussions in youth sports, along with a lawsuit filed against the NFL by football players who claim they did not receive proper treatment for head injuries, could be making people more aware of how dangerous a brain injury can be.
Of course, thanks to more specialized training and advances in medical technology, doctors may also be getting better at diagnosing TBIs.
But the other factor that could explain the spike is the worst-case scenario: There are simply more incidents of people sustaining serious head injuries in the U.S. today – whether it is the result of a motor vehicle accident, slip-and-fall, workplace accident or even a sports or recreational accident.
Keep in mind: A person does not have to lose consciousness in order to have sustained a traumatic brain injury.
Furthermore, the symptoms of a TBI can take hours or even days to develop, meaning that doctors who treat people in ERs after accidents may not initially be able to diagnose a brain injury. Unfortunately, delayed treatment can have serious consequences and contribute to long-term deficits or disabilities.
Dealing with Traumatic Brain Injury
Getting treated for TBI in the emergency room is usually just the first step in a lengthy and often complicated process of recovering from the head injury.
A patient may also need to spend an extensive period of time in an intensive care unit until his or her condition stabilizes.
After being removed from the ICU, a patient with TBI may need to undergo rehabilitation, ranging from learning how to conduct basic daily activities like walking and talking to actually being rehabilitated to the point where a patient may be able to return to working.
Additionally, a TBI patient may need ongoing mental health counseling to cope with the depression and anxiety that often accompanies a serious brain injury. The patients may also need to be placed on a long-term medication plan.
Getting Legal Attention in Addition to Medical Attention
The high cost of getting medical care and treatment for TBI can be overwhelming. Victims and their families should also consider having their case reviewed by an experienced legal professional. Attorneys can investigate the circumstances under which the injury occurred, both to determine if a viable claim against a third party exists, and whether any such claim is worth pursuing.