Monday, 30 August 2010

Should TBI Be Redefined As Chronic Disease?

A couple of researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have put forward an intriguing concept - since brain injury triggers a series of medical conditions which may present themselves over the person’s lifetime, it may perhaps be time to redefine TBI as a chronic disease that can be monitored.

Researchers Douglas Dewitt and Brent Massel have published their opinions in the Journal of Neurotrauma. According to them, a brain injury can kick off a disease process that includes medical conditions ranging from sleep apnea and epilepsy to sexual dysfunction and psychiatric illnesses. TBI has been found associated with the development of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. All this is not even counting new studies that emerge every month linking brain injury to other conditions, like depression and neuroendocrine disorders. Depending on the severity of the brain injury, patients can expect to face more complications as the years go by. The more severe the brain injury, the higher the number of complications that present themselves over the person’s lifetime.

Both the researchers are calling for redefining brain injury as a chronic and consistent disease. By doing so, doctors will be able to monitor brain injury patients, and track their symptoms in the same way that they currently do for patients with cardiac disease or diabetes. We don't treat persons diagnosed with diabetes as suffering from an injury. Instead, patients are monitored regularly for blood glucose levels, and symptoms of cardiac disease. They are also monitored for the development of kidney disease, deteriorating eyesight, and other complications arising from diabetes. If we redefine brain injury as a disease, we could do something similar for these patients too.

Doctors and California brain injury lawyers have always known of the impact these increasing complications have on a person's health and finances. It would lessen the financial impact on these people, because it would require insurance companies to reimburse these people more often, as more complications develop.

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