Research Suggests Traumatic Brain Injury Increases Chances of Premature Death in Adult Survivors
New research suggests that suffering and surviving a traumatic brain injury can dramatically increase the chances of premature death, dying young.
The new study, led by a team of British researchers and based on four decades of research on traumatic brain injury patients in Sweden, defines “premature death” as dying before the age of 56. The study showed that patients who survived the short-term effects of traumatic brain injury were more likely to die years later, from suicide or another accident.
The study was published Wednesday, January 15th, in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation (JAMA).
The team of British and Swedish researchers gathered information from patients with serious traumatic brain injury such as skull fractures, internal bleeding, or loss of consciousness for more than an hour. While they did not look specifically at concussion trauma, often referred to as mild traumatic brain injury, the data does suggest an association with concussions as well.
The researchers analyzed data from 218,300 Swedes born after 1953, who were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries other than concussions between 1969 and 2009, and who survived at least six months after the injury. Of the original 218,300, 2,378 died before the age of 56 – making 1.1% of the group. That was three times the rate of the control group, which was the general population, and 2.6 times more likely than unaffected siblings.
Using siblings as a control group helped researchers compare lifestyle influences, to focus on traumatic brain injury. Often, patients with traumatic brain injuries are risk-takers, more adventurous than the general population. They are also often more likely to have a psychiatric disorder or substance abuse problem. These risk factors not only increase the likelihood for the patient to suffer traumatic brain injury, but increase the risk of suicide or fatal accident from risk-taking. By using siblings as a comparison, researchers were able to narrow down the risk of premature death to traumatic brain injury.
“If these people are higher risk takers and have frontal temporal cortex injuries that exacerbate the problems, it’s not surprising that they have higher rates of suicide,” said Donald Stein, a traumatic brain injury researcher at Emory University in Atlanta.
“TBI survivors are more than twice as likely to kill themselves as unaffected siblings, many of whom were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders after their TBI,” said study leader Seena Fazel, a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry. “TBI survivors should be monitored carefully for signs of depression, substance abuse and other psychiatric disorders, which are all treatable conditions.”
Premature death related to concussion was also examined, and researchers found that mild traumatic brain injury or concussion increased the risk of premature death almost twofold.
The Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys at the Strom Law Firm
All kinds of accidents can cause traumatic brain injury. Some of the most common are automobile accidents, work accidents, or defective products. For many victims, traumatic brain injury is not immediately noticeable. According to statistics from the CDC, 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injury every year, and 52,000 of those sufferers die from complications.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to an automobile accident or a defective product, it is not too late to get help. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm offer free consultations to discuss the incident that led to traumatic brain injury and determine if you have a personal injury case. Contact us today. 803.252.4800.