Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the most frequent cause of hospitalization in young people and the leading cause of disability and mortality for those ages 1 to 45. Over 100,000 children are treated annually for sport and recreation related TBIs and over 5 million Americans suffer from a TBI every single year.
With these numbers, it is no surprise that medical professionals call TBIs a “major public health problem.” We are taking steps to help address the problem and learning more about the full impact of these injuries. One emerging area is the connection between a TBI and other organ systems within the body.
What are common causes of a TBI?
Before we dive into the connection between TBIs and other organ functions, it is important to understand what causes these injuries. These types of injuries are commonly caused by car crashes, falls, and participation in various sports.
What do we know about the connection between TBI and other organ systems?
A recent publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) dug into the connection. The article focuses specifically on the likelihood of acute extracranial multiorgan dysfunction after a TBI. The researchers reviewed data from over 4,000 patients and found that those with mild to severe TBI had an increased risk of:
- Neuropsychiatric disease. Studies establish a connection between TBI and an increased risk of seizure, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Coronary artery disease. This finding is supported by previous studies that have also indicated a connection between cardiovascular disease and TBI.
- Hyperlipidemia. A TBI can increase the amount of lipids or fats within the bloodstream. This can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Hypertension. Researchers also note an increased risk of high blood pressure. A failure to treat hypertension can increase the risk of mortality after a severe TBI.
This association was true in both older and younger patients. The researchers with the study note that there are some limitations to the findings. Most notably, these patients often experienced multiple traumas and other factors may have contributed to these increased risks.
Why is this information important?
Even with these limitations, the information is important for those who suffer from mild, moderate, or serious TBIs after a car crash. Because the symptoms are insidious, being evaluated by an appropriate neurologist or neuropsychologist may be necessary to identify problems and coping mechanisms. Researchers with the study specifically point out that this is of high importance for younger victims who may have a higher autonomic and inflammatory response to injury. This can make it more likely the suffer long term, multi-organ effect after a TBI.
This article shows that these victims are more likely to suffer from serious health issues well after the wreck. This provides support that victims are wise to consider future medical needs when navigating a civil claim to hold the responsible driver accountable for the financial impact of the crash.