Long Term Problems from Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries can cause problems that do not become obvious for days or months afterwards. They can sometimes take years to reach a level of difficulty that catches the notice of a doctor. Many of these long-term problems appear much earlier in life than would normally be expected. They may also manifest in more extreme forms than is common to those with no previous traumatic brain injury.

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease typically affects older people, but a traumatic brain injury can bring on early symptoms. Alzheimer’s causes short-term memory loss, confusion, and disjointed thinking. Patients lose short-term memory, while retaining much of their long-term experiences. They may not recognize loved ones, yet will clearly remember the day they graduated from high school.

Early Onset

Brain injuries make Alzheimer’s more likely to occur and at a younger age. New England Patriots player Ted Johnson suffered several head injuries between 2002 and 2005. In 2007, at age 34, his doctors noted that he already showed signs of early Alzheimer’s disease.[1]

The risk of early Alzheimer’s grows with the severity and frequency of head injury.  A 2009 NFL study reported that former NFL players are 19 times more likely than the average population to develop Alzheimer’s disease between ages 30 and 49. Head injuries make this elderly disease a problem for younger people.

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s and similar diseases that impair motion also tend to follow traumatic brain injuries. Parkinson’s disease causes uncontrollable movements. Mild cases may cause twitches and reduced ability to create facial expressions. Cases that are more serious can cause difficulty walking and talking normally, as was seen with world famous boxer Muhammad Ali. There is no cure for the disease. It worsens until the patient loses all motion control.

Post Traumatic Dementia

This problem can happen after severe traumatic brain injury, especially in a person who went into coma following the injury. People with post-traumatic dementia can have memory problems or difficulty controlling their muscle movements. The severity of the problem can be different for each person. Unlike most types of dementia that impair short-term memory, post-traumatic dementia can damage long-term memory.

Dementia Pugilistica

Dementia Pugilistica usually happens to boxers who suffer repeated blows to the head for many years in a row. It is sometimes called Boxer’s Syndrome because of the prevalence seen in athletes retired from the sport. The symptoms are very much like Post Traumatic Dementia, but they do not appear until years after the brain trauma. Memory loss and movement problems can last for many years, sometimes resulting in early death.

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If you or someone you love suffered a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of another, contact us. Our lawyers have experience in cases involving brain trauma and can look into your case free of charge.


[1] http://www.npr.org/2011/01/20/133053436/brain-injuries-haunt-football-players-years-later

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