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Long-term complications of traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are unfortunately common. The leading causes of TBI include auto collisions, falls and being struck by objects. While some TBI cases resolve within weeks or months, others have long-lasting effects.

Victims with moderate to severe TBI may suffer serious complications, chronic pain and other debilitating symptoms. Recovery often involves a combination of surgery, medications and rehabilitation. 

Post-traumatic epilepsy

There is a high risk of seizures following a TBI. Sometimes, patients may develop long-term seizure disorders. Permanent problems such as post-traumatic epilepsy may require treatment with anti-seizure medications. 

Ongoing and worsening headaches

Headaches are a common symptom of TBI that may start quickly following the injury. However, certain patients may struggle with persistent headaches, and they may even become more painful. Recurring headaches and migraines are even common for patients who make an otherwise "complete" recovery. 

Communication problems

TBI often results in damage to the parts of the brain that control language and communication. Victims may have difficulties in the following areas:

  • Speaking or writing
  • Understanding speech or writing
  • Organizing thoughts
  • Participating in and following conversations

This can result in frustration, misunderstanding and conflict among friends, family members and care providers.

Emotional difficulties

A brain injury can significantly impact the victim's emotions. TBI patients often suffer from depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, insomnia and anger. The presence of ongoing complications can continue to worsen the patient's mental health.

Coma or vegetative state

A serious TBI may cause a long-term or permanent change to the victim's state of consciousness, responsiveness or awareness. In the most severe circumstances, this may lead to a coma. A patient may fall into a coma due to widespread damage to the brain. TBI can also cause a patient to enter into a vegetative state, which means the individual is unaware of her or his surroundings but can make certain physical movements.

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