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Traumatic brain injuries have long-term effects

Most common among motor vehicle and slip and fall accidents, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) often have long-lasting effects. Since TBI affects brain function, these effects vary greatly in both type and severity. Short-term effects can impact memory, vision, balance, mood and more, but these symptoms may also point toward more severe damage.

Those who have suffered TBI are likely concerned about the potential long-term effects and what treatments may be available. Understanding what to expect can help people find the proper treatment sooner.

TBI-related conditions and disorders

The most recent study on TBI from the CDC identifies a few troubling trends. From 2006 to 2014, the CDC measured a 53% increase in TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths. The CDC found that TBI contributed to the deaths of over 56,000 people in 2014.

Survivors of TBI may still suffer both short- and long-term effects. TBI can contribute to developing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety, and even seizures. Repeated and mild TBI, like the damage sustained by many professional athletes, may result in cumulative cognitive defects and may result in violent or suicidal behavior.

Researchers are hard at work to treat TBI. Recently, a study at the University of California Riverside revealed an innovative treatment for TBI-related seizures. The lead author of the study is Viji Santhakumar, an associate professor of molecular biology. Studying rats, her team researched the rarely studied area where neurological conditions meet the immune system.

Santhakumar’s team revealed an interesting effect of the brain’s attempt to heal those damaged cells — a specific immune receptor becomes overworked. This hyperactivity negatively impacts the hippocampus, adversely affecting the memory and learning centers of the brain. As a result, victims of TBI are more susceptible to develop epilepsy and seizures later in life. Santhakumar’s team found that suppressing this receptor in the wake of TBI can significantly reduce that risk.

Santhakumar is hopeful that her research reveals other avenues of study in treating other long-term effects of TBI. “In future work, we plan to study co-morbidities associated with traumatic brain injury,” Santhakumar said.

Legal protections for victims

Those suffering from TBI due to another person’s negligence may be curious how a potential personal injury claim can help cover medical bills. A local lawyer familiar with personal injury law can assess a claim and answer questions.