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What Are The Long Term Effects Of Head Injuries?

Serious head injuries, from concussions onwards, can have severe effects on the quality of life of the victim, not just now but for many years in the future.
The cost is potentially extremely high, while there is often little support in place for long-term care.

Head injuries are quite common events, too, arising from sports injuries as well as road traffic accidents, slips trips and falls, and assaults.

Here are some of the more common, less immediately apparent long-term problems you might expect people who have suffered head injuries to discover as time goes on.

This article does not constitute medical advice.

Personality And Mood Disorders

It has been observed that the most basic aspects of our personality are liable to change following a head injury since the very first recorded brain injuries.

Emotional and behavioural changes following a brain injury can be extremely difficult for friends, family, employers and the affected party themselves to deal with. Depression following a head injury can seriously disrupt an individual’s life.

Emotional and behavioural changes can also include agitation, lack of self-awareness, anxiety, lack of motivation, obsession, and a lack of self-control.

Impaired Physical Ability

Subtler impaired physical ability may include tiredness, which can be difficult to recognise straight away, headaches, dyspraxia and loss of sensation.

For instance, following a head injury a patient might later realise that their sense of smell or taste is diminished, seriously harming their quality of life.

Alternatively, it could be the case that a seemingly small loss of physical ability greatly impacts ones ability to continue with a physically or mentally demanding career.

Impaired Communicative Ability

The ability to communicate and especially to take social cues well is incredibly complex, and dependent on a number of different parts of the brain.

Communication can already be damaged by impairment of physical ability or cognitive ability.

Consequently, some aspect of the ability to communicate effectively is often lost in particularly serious head injuries, but aphasia is a set of conditions that specifically affect communicative ability.

Aphasia or dysphasia are more likely to appear in conjunction with other damage to the brain, and may involve jumbling up your words, accidentally using made-up words, and being unable to describe words that the injured person cannot remember. For instance, where most people would be able to say “You know, it floats on water, has a sail, expensive” for “yacht”, someone with aphasia might be completely stumped, or simply use an inappropriate or made-up word to substitute. Reading and writing problems may be symptoms of aphasia.

Long Term Success After Head Injuries

Long term success can be severely impaired after a head injury. St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto reported that almost a half of all homeless people have suffered a head injury at some point in the past. Of these, 87 percent were injured before becoming homeless, suggesting that if there is a causal relationship it is head injuries that cause homelessness, rather than the other way round.

Although there is also a possible causal connection between self-destructive behaviours, suffering through physical and emotional abuse, mental illness and head injuries, a huge portion of the injuries sustained were sustained during childhood or teenage years – 70 percent of those injured. This suggests that there are long-lasting, subtle implications of head injuries whose effects on your long term quality of life are anything but subtle.

The St. Michael’s study is backed up by this study carried out by Dr. Hwang et alia, Healthcare Utilization, Legal Incidents, and Victimization Following Traumatic Brain Injury in Homeless and Vulnerably Housed Individuals: A Prospective Cohort Study. This particular study makes the additional claim that homeless people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury are more vulnerable to a wide range of risks even after adjusting for common confounders, and studies a much larger sample size of 904 (as opposed to 111 for the St. Michael’s study).

Suffered A Serious Head Injury?

If you’ve suffered a serious head injury, you may feel as though you’re recovering, but your life could have been permanently affected. Making a claim for damages from a serious head injury could help you live with the effects more easily.


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