A traumatic brain injury can result in cognitive, emotional, and physical impairments that make the patient more vulnerable to future injury. For instance, cognitive impairments may result in slow decision-making or faulty judgment that can put a person at risk while driving. Emotional impairments may lead to an increased risk of assault-related injury or self-harm. And physical impairments can increase the risk of falls.
In a recent study of veterans, researchers reported that 32% of people with a traumatic brain injury subsequently suffered from another non-fatal injury. Most of these injuries were from falls and car accidents. Assault, burns, and poisoning were less common causes of subsequent injuries.
The specific impairments that contributed the most to subsequent injury were vision loss, hearing loss, speech problems, chronic pain, and depression. Other impairments that were identified as less significant risk factors were balance problems, anxiety, anger problems, and sleep problems.
Carlson KF, Meis LA, Jensen AC, et al. Caregiver reports of subsequent injuries among veterans with traumatic brain injury after discharge from inpatient polytrauma rehabilitation program. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (February 2012).