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Traumatic Brain Injury: Prevention is More Powerful than Treatment

Researchers have determined that working to prevent traumatic brain injuries from occurring may be a better use of resources than attempting to treat them. Although treatments are available for patients with TBI, these treatments rarely result in a full recovery. As a result, researchers strongly encourage a focus on prevention.

Traumatic brain injury is a common diagnosis that often occurs after an individual has suffered a blow to the head. Common situations that may lead to traumatic brain injury include falls, car accidents, assault and sports-related incidents. When TBI is severe, it can lead to serious consequences, including coma, vegetative state, lasting mental disabilities and brain death. In order to minimize the effects of TBI, prompt treatment is essential.

Unfortunately, even though diagnosis has become simpler and faster in recent years, effective treatment for TBI is limited. Mortality rates have improved and fewer people are dying from TBI, but scientists are still struggling to create an effective rehabilitation protocol that can restore patients' function entirely. Many patients who have been treated for TBI will continue to experience lasting nerve damage, cognitive deficits, communication problems and behavioral changes even after undergoing treatment. Some people with TBI also develop seizure disorders or mental illness that continues for the rest of their lives. Scientists are still working to develop treatments that are capable of addressing these serious life-changing problems.

In light of these facts, individuals suffering with TBI face an uphill battle even when they have access to all of the best medical treatment. Quality of life is impacted permanently for many of these people. Thus, researchers conclude that the goal of society should be not only to find better treatments for TBI, but also to find more effective ways to prevent these injuries from occurring in the first place. Examples of useful preventative measures include laws for helmets in contact sports, motorcycle helmet laws and seatbelt laws. Encouraging all people to follow existing safety laws, such as traffic laws, is also important.

When TBI does occur, it is important for victims and their families to seek legal counsel in order to ensure that justice is served and that any parties responsible for the injury are held accountable.

Source: J Health and Social Policy, "Traumatic brain injury: the lag between diagnosis and treatment", Retsinas J., 1993.

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