If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a work-related accident, you already know how difficult it is to cope with the changes caused by the brain injury. A TBI can cause headaches, nausea, sleep disturbance and difficulty in thinking. One thing you may not be aware of is that a brain injury can also increase the risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease.
Long-term effects despite perceived recovery
In many cases, the cognitive and physical symptoms of brain trauma fade with time. This can make those suffering from a TBI feel that they have experienced a full recovery. However, the most devastating consequences of TBI may not appear until years or even decades after the initial accident. Traumatic brain injury is a well-documented non-genetic risk factor for developing neurodegenerative diseases.
Of the diseases linked to TBIs, these are the most common:
· Alzheimer's disease - a progressive brain disorder that impairs memory, thinking and behavior.
· Parkinson's disease - a central nervous system disorder that affects movement and balance.
· Motor neuron disease - a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impairs movement, walking, speaking, breathing and swallowing.
· Chronic traumatic encephalopathy - a degenerative brain disorder that causes difficulty with thinking and controlling emotions and behavior.
TBI is also associated with earlier onset and greater severity of cognitive symptoms for those who develop these diseases.
Increased risk regardless of severity
A single severe TBI can quadruple the risk of developing dementia. However, minor brain injuries can be just as dangerous. New evidence suggests that accumulated damage from repeated mild TBIs can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a form of dementia, as well as a number of other conditions that are both physically and cognitively debilitating.
If your work environment puts you at risk of experiencing multiple head traumas, you may be at risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease even if you have never suffered from a moderate or severe brain injury.
Treatment options and long-term care
Unfortunately, there is no cure for many neurodegenerative diseases. The quality of care you receive immediately following an injury can influence long-term mental health. However, if you have suffered a TBI, you should prepare for the possibility that you may require further treatment and long-term care down the road.
When dealing with a traumatic brain injury, it is important to understand both the immediate and long-term consequences. Following a head injury, you may have difficulty thinking clearly, formulating plans and making decisions.
Since the damage can have life-long implications, it is important that you consult with an attorney with experience in head injury cases. Your attorney can help you to review your situation and determine the best course of action as you navigate your treatment plan and legal options.