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Study links traumatic brain injury, premature death of sufferer

Suicide and depression are rising as concerns in the fields of sports medicine and traumatic head injury in Illinois and around the nation. Whereas the physical event causing the trauma may once have been the sole area of attention, doctors were finding that adverse psychological issues that can develop after a brain injury are serious concerns in themselves. This led to a recent study that found a support network was needed by traumatic brain injury patients to monitor them for signs of depression and intervene should they be found.

The research looked at more than 200,000 Swedish patients who were born in or after 1954 and who sustained a severe brain injury between the years 1969 and 2009. The study found that not only did 11,000 of the patients die prematurely, but also that more than 1 in 5 of them died six months or later after the traumatic injury. This increased risk of early death was found by the researchers to remain at that higher level for at least five years.

The most common causes of the brain injuries that put patients at an increased risk of dying early were the person having suffered a previous traumatic brain injury, attempting suicide and being assaulted. The study also found that psychiatric conditions or substance abuse also could contribute to the risk of premature death.

Not all brain trauma is caused by accidents, suicide attempts or assaults. Unfortunately, sometimes medical malpractice may be to blame, as in birth injuries caused by a doctor or hospital staff member. In these cases, a lawsuit may be filed to seek compensation for the long-term care often required by a brain injury caused by insufficient oxygen.

Source: Web MD, "Brain Injuries May Raise Risk of Early Death", Steven Reinberg, January 15, 2014

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