Prepare for impact: The struggle for people with Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a major cause of disability in the United States.  A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain.  1.7 million people sustain a TBI each year in the United States; there are 204 emergency room (ER) visits, 33 hospitalizations, and 6 TBI-related deaths every hour. Falls can be attributed to 35 percent of TBIs, and motor vehicles account for 17 percent, while blasts are the most common cause of TBIs for veterans in war zones.

TBI has become more known since the 2015 release of the movie Concussion, a biographical sports drama film directed and written by Peter Landesman, based on the exposé “Game Brain” by Jeanne Marie Laskas, published in 2009 by GQ magazine. The movie highlights the NFL’s attempt to suppress evidence of widespread TBI among players.

Recent research from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) shows that “more than 40 percent of retired National Football League players … had signs of traumatic brain injury based on sensitive MRI scans called diffusion tensor imaging,” according to a press release from the AAN. (https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/PressRelease/1453)

TBI has serious and long term consequences that negatively impact a person’s ability to function. The effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).

Damage to certain areas of the brain from a TBI may cause distinct behavioral changes. Aggressive, agitated, or irritable behavior is very common after a traumatic brain injury. Some people will become verbally aggressive, but others will also become physically aggressive. Aggressive behavior occurs in 40-70% of TBI cases, and can be severely destructive to patients and their caregivers

According to one study, about 40% of people hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were:

  1. Controlling one’s temper
  2. Managing stress and emotional upsets
  3. Improving memory and problem solving
  4. Improving one’s job skills

The diminished ability to regulate or inhibit impulsive behaviors increases the risk of violent acts which can lead to further TBIs. Reducing diminished behavior control and poor emotion functioning is a critical goal to eliminate subsequent violence and diminish the risk of further injuries.

The effects of TBI not only affect individuals, but can have lasting effects on those around them. It’s important for people with TBI, and their families to understand that these behavioral and emotional changes are a result of the brain injury; they are not the injured person’s fault. With proper treatment, support, and patience, people with TBI can work to regain a sense of control over their moods and behaviors.

Fortunately, several pharmacological interventions show promise in helping patients cope with these losses and deficits. There is growing evidence that medications may speed recovery by enhancing some neurological functions without impacting others.

The only way to find better treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury is through the support and participation in clinical research trials. To learn more about Meridien Research’s TBI clinical research trials, call 888-777-8839 or submit a confidential inquiry to info@meridienresearch.net.