Brain Injuries Over Time: New Research Shows That Symptoms May Worsen
A study of 500 veterans with TBIs concluded that concussion symptoms do not improve with time but actually worsen slightly. This might help improve disability access for veterans as awareness grows.
AMHERST, NY, October 30, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A brain health organization recently announced the results of a study of traumatic brain injuries. By looking at 500 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the research concluded that brain injury symptoms did not subside over the course of eight years. Instead, the veterans reported slightly worse conditions over the course of time.
This research draws more attention to traumatic brain injuries as "invisible wounds." Even though veterans with brain injuries may look completely whole and healthy on the outside, painful and frustrating consequences can continue to make post-service life extremely difficult.
Brain injury symptoms include severe headaches, memory problems, impulsivity or impaired judgment, and even depression. Taken as a group, these symptoms are often called post-concussive syndrome. At least 253,000 American servicemen and women were diagnosed with brain injuries in the last twelve years.
Study's Results Show Bad News For Brain Injury Victims
The new study looked at symptoms of post-concussive syndrome over a period of time. Researchers evaluated veterans with brain injuries during the first four years after a brain injury and then again in the next four years after that. Over the course of eight years, the researchers found that symptoms still had not diminished.
Almost 50 percent of the surveyed veterans reported continuing headaches. Forty-six percent said that their headaches were still "severe" up to four years after an injury. Fast forward another four years and the numbers were even worse: 51 percent of respondents said that they suffered from severe headaches. Researchers also said that a similar pattern appeared in other brain injury symptom categories like depression, impulsive decision-making, and coordination.
Because brain injuries can be cumulative, veterans who suffered multiple concussions also seemed to experience even worse symptoms.
Practical Consequences Of Post-Concussive Syndrome For Veterans
Servicemen who suffer from post-concussive syndrome often have a difficult time returning to professional and personal life. One of the researchers noted how important it is to help veterans plug back into family life to create a healthy environment within which to confront other brain injury symptoms that can affect various areas of mental health, including professional satisfaction.
Severe brain injuries may also make it impossible for veterans to perform the work that they found satisfying before an injury, further contributing to problems like depression and unemployment. In the event that a brain injury victim cannot work enough to earn a living, he or she can apply for Social Security disability benefits. But due to the complexity of diagnosing brain injuries, applicants sometimes face denied benefit claims and a complex appeals process.
Hopefully this research will contribute to an expanding body of knowledge about the effects of brain injury. As broader awareness builds, veterans should have an easier time securing the benefits and support that they need to start moving on from service-related injuries.
Attorney Kenneth Hiller, of The Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller, PLLC, is dedicated to helping disabled clients obtain the Social Security benefits they need and deserve.
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