Traumatic brain injuries can happen anywhere, and the associated costs can be staggering. The media shines a light on brain injuries as professional athletes and celebrities discuss their struggles. However, they don’t fully capture the magnitude of the challenges for the rest of the population suffering from TBIs.
What Is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
The brain is a delicate instrument and is usually protected from the everyday bumps and bruises by our skulls. However, when the skull is penetrated, or the head gets hit hard enough that the brain bounces against the inside of the skull, the brain may lose function temporarily or permanently.
The brain controls how we move, communicate, think, and function as human beings. Every part of the brain serves a different purpose, and the location of the injury will affect the associated disability.
Causes of TBI include:
- Sports Injuries, especially in full-contact sports like football, rugby, and hockey
- Car Accidents (and other vehicle accidents, including buses, trains, planes, motorcycles, and boats) can cause many injuries, including internal and external trauma to the head.
- Falls can happen anytime but are more prevalent among older adults, children who are still growing and uncoordinated, people who live in icy climates, and those who work physical jobs involving ladders, heavy machinery, etc.
- Physical Violence, including domestic violence, child abuse, and other violent crimes.
- Military Servicecan take a heavy toll, as can living in both foreign and domestic battle zones.
What costs are associated with TBIs?
Over a patient’s lifetime, injury-related costs can be as high as $4 million. With 1.7 million people diagnosed with TBIs every year in the U.S., that’s approximately a $7 trillion price tag for TBIs every year.
Here are examples of TBI expenses.
- Emergency Trauma Stabilization: The first order of business is to preserve life and prevent further harm. This can include ambulance rides, emergency helicopters, emergency doctors, hospital stays, and operations to stabilize the injury, repair damage, or relieve pressure.
- Post-Trauma Examinations: Once the patient is stabilized, it’s time to determine the extent of the damage with in-depth examinations, nerve conduction tests, cognitive evaluations, speech and communication skills evaluations, motor function tests, and other tests to diagnose and develop a treatment protocol.
- Rehabilitative Care: The hard work of recovery begins with in-patient or out-patient therapy to relearn lost skills, strengthen weakened muscles, recover from other associated injuries, and return the victim to daily routines if possible.
- Adaptation Care: If the patient has any lasting disabilities, this stage helps them create a decent quality of life. They may need to retrain for another vocation if they lose the ability to do the job they had before the injury. Braces and wheelchairs can help with the loss of muscle strength or mobility. If the patient cannot perform daily tasks like feeding or clothing themselves, they will need a long-term care facility or in-home caregivers. They may also require medical equipment and house modifications to accommodate medical equipment. These modifications could include wheelchair-accessible showers and ramps.
- Lost Wages: If someone cannot work during rehab, they will lose all of the money they would have made during missed days. In the event of a permanent disability, they lose what they would have earned until retirement.
- Memory Care- If the patient can get around but loses memory, they may need to move to a memory care facility. Otherwise, they could forget critical things like turning off the stove. They may also be at risk for taking medications too frequently or too infrequently or taking the wrong dose.
- Final Expenses: In the event that a severe TBI leads to death, there will be many end-of-life costs.
How Can I Afford To Care For My Loved One?
Unfortunately, not everyone has an extra $4 million lying around to cover the potential costs of a TBI. There are two likely scenarios for dealing with these costs:
- If someone is at fault for the injury, such as a drunk driver who crashed into your vehicle, now is the time to find a good personal injury attorney. You can search for “traumatic brain injury attorney near me” or “TBI Lawyer near me.” You can also contact us HERE for a free consultation about your case.
- If no one is to blame and it was just an accident, here are some things you should know:
An experienced lawyer will not only fight for your right to proper medical care and medical expense reimbursement, they will also look at the expected costs in the future and seek to recover what you may need in the way of ongoing care. They can also help you recover wages you have lost and may continue to lose due to your injury.
- Your medical insurance will cover your costs according to your purchased plan, and you will pay the rest. Choosing a comprehensive plan with an affordable deductible can be pricey if you’re on a tight budget. It’s a balancing act between what you can afford to pay now and what you may need should catastrophe strike in the future.
- If your medical insurance is through work and you lose your job, you can use COBRA, which allows you to keep your group plan for a limited time while you find other options.
- Other options include Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and other programs depending on your disability, expected duration, and financial resources.
To Wrap Things Up
No one wants to experience a TBI or watch a loved one struggle with a brain injury. However, understanding the costs can help you know what to expect should you find yourself or a family member dealing with the effects of traumatic brain injury.