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What are some long-term problems of a traumatic brain injury?

Many effects of traumatic brain injury are temporary, especially with proper medical treatment. However, the brain is a delicate organ and will take longer to repair than a broken bone—in some cases, patients may never function exactly the same way they did before the accident.

Common Long-Term Problems of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Neurochemical problems

One of the biggest issues brain injury victims face after an accident is behavioral change. This is because the brain relies on neurotransmitters. These are the chemical substances in the brain that allow communication to take place between neurons. A brain injury may interrupt the flow of information through the brain, disrupting bodily functions, such as the ability to walk, but also the ability to process images and make decisions.

It is common for patients to experience mood swings, outbursts of anger, or depression after an injury due to a neurotransmitter imbalance. As the brain heals, the patient’s neurochemical imbalance will often improve, although it can take several weeks or even months for the brain to correct the imbalance. It could take even longer for the patient’s behavior to improve.

Slow or Permanent Changes

The brain’s recovery depends on its ability to adapt and change, also called natural plasticity. This may mean setting up new connections between neurons to replace damaged ones and restoring communication between the areas of the brain. Although the brain never stops growing, repair and change is more likely to occur when their brain is regularly stimulated. This is why recovery processes often take years. Patients must continually keep their minds active in order to recover lost function. The brain can only heal at its own rate.

The most important factor in your brain injury recovery is patience. It may be frustrating that you cannot do some of the things you once did—or even feel the same way about places and people—but what is lost may be able to come back. The only thing you can do is stay positive and give it time—let your brain come back to you on its own. For more tips on getting through your recovery, click the link on this page to read our FREE e-book, Brain Injury Survivor's Guide.


James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.

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