A new study published online in JAMA Psychiatry could be pivotal in treating victims of traumatic brain injuries in the future.
The researchers focused on patients registered in a Swedish data registry over the course of 41 years. Here are some of their findings:
- Those afflicted with a traumatic brain injury were 3 times more likely to die from premature death (defined as death before the age of 56) than those without TBI. These deaths were primarily due to suicide, accidental injury or assault.
- This same 3 fold risk remained for years following the initial TBI incident
- The risk of premature death was the highest in people who were also suffering with substance abuse; additionally, those with both TBI and substance abuse issues had an increased risk of premature death over those who suffered with substance abuse alone.
- Researchers concede that it’s likely that some of these premature deaths result in those with personality traits such as impulsiveness, risk taking behaviors and substance abuse.
The relevance of the study is huge — In the US, 1% of the population live with the consequences of TBI. TBI is the primary or secondary diagnosis in over 2 million people per year; 50,000 people die every year from TBI.
The researchers also concluded that further study regarding the type of traumatic brain injury may be necessary to further break down risks and possible intervention and treatment programs from those suffering from TBI. The majority of TBIs occur in automobile accidents. These injuries can be quite different than head injuries from contact sports such as football, which produce repeated contusions that can have a cumulative affect on the brain.
Still another type of brain injury occurs in soldiers in Iran and Afghanistan who are exposed to the shock waves from explosive devices.