NYC Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney Examines The Challenges of Evaluating The Psychological Effects of TBI
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects an organ that not only controls our entire body but also defines who we are as people – our personality, emotions, and thoughts explains a NYC traumatic brain injury attorney.
The immediate symptoms of TBIs are fairly well-established. There’s loss of consciousness, with the duration being a key marker for whether a TBI is considered mild, moderate, or severe. People with a TBI may also suffer from a host of physical issues such as powerful headaches, nausea, impaired vision, dizziness, fatigue, and paralysis. Their cognitive problems can include disorientation, weakened memory, and difficulty speaking.
On top of this, TBIs may result in profound changes to people’s psychological state.
Why we can’t overlook psychological effects
When confronted with some of the other symptoms caused by TBIs, the psychological effects may not receive sufficient attention, at least initially. However, TBIs have been linked to serious psychological problems that affect people’s health and quality of life both shortly after the injury and possibly for weeks, months, or years after.
These can include volatile mood swings and irritability, depleted motivation and profound apathy, post-traumatic stress symptoms, anxiety disorders, and depression. Some people also report changes to their personality – for example, an individual who tended to behave responsibly before the injury may become more erratic and impulsive afterwards.
What are some of the challenges of evaluating these effects?
Let’s consider one example, a recent study that connects brain injuries suffered in childhood to anxiety and depression later in life. Compared to children who hadn’t suffered a TBI, those who did experienced a significantly higher rate of anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and depression a decade or more later; the rates were especially high in cases where the TBIs were moderate-to-severe.
This is a study worth noting. It adds to a growing body of literature on the long-term effects of TBIs (which includes research on post-concussion syndrome involving both children and adults). But this particular study also has some weaknesses that need follow-up.
Most notably, the research didn’t include data on each individual’s anxiety prior to the TBI; the baseline isn’t clear, and it’s harder to tell how much the TBI itself contributed to the anxiety experienced afterwards. The study also found differences in levels of anxiety disorders between females and males as a group, regardless of TBI; this shows how researchers need to untangle the effects of other factors that aren’t necessarily related to the injury.
In considering how a TBI may have exerted a negative impact on someone’s psychological state, the following are some of the issues requiring careful consideration:
- There are multiple ways a TBI can affect psychology. Damage to the brain from the immediate injury is one possible cause for psychological and emotional symptoms. Psychological problems can also emerge or become exacerbated as an individual struggles in the aftermath of the TBI with serious impairments in health and diminished quality of life (e.g. loss of work, financial problems, academic failures, relationship difficulties).
- It’s critical to understand the individual’s psychological health prior to the TBI, to establish a clearer “before and after” picture. Even if someone had a psychological problem such as depression before the TBI, the TBI might have made it worse and more difficult to manage.
- Calculating the costs of the psychological effects specifically is also challenging, as these effects can be pervasive, long-lasting, and affect multiple areas of life.
We need to continue tracking the latest research on both short-term and long-term effects of TBIs, including the psychological symptoms that arise or worsen following such an injury. When you contact us in the aftermath of a TBI, we will work with you to understand every possible effect and its impact on your life. We will also fight for you to receive fair compensation so that you can heal and cope as much as possible. For psychological problems following a TBI, you would need high-quality therapy and support as you adjust to any changes in your life.