Traumatic brain injury is often thought of, and treated as, a one-time
event. And yet, it is well understood that TBI is the root of many ongoing
complications. Some complications can be seen immediately and continue
for many years after the event: cognitive dysfunction, sleep disorders,
motor impairments, or psychiatric disease. Some might not manifest until
long after the event: seizures, hypopituitarism, or early onset of degenerative
diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.
In a recent commentary published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, Drs. Masel
and DeWitt of the University of Texas wrote, "Historically, individuals
living with a brain injury have been referred to as brain injury 'survivors'."
As if staying alive was the endpoint of brain injury, the same way cure
is the endpoint to cancer. "However," they continued, "annually
in the United States alone, over 90,000 TBI patients become disabled,"
and many face a future of "an ongoing, perhaps life-long, process"
of managing critical, permanent, and expensive complications.
Perhaps, as was suggested in this commentary, TBI should be referred to
as "chronic traumatic brain injury disease" because this definition
will help to researchers, clinicians, and legal professionals understand
that TBI may require life-long support, assessment, treatment, and funding.
Masel BE, & DeWitt DS. Traumatic brain injury: A disease process, not
Journal of Neurotrauma. (June 2010).