There are two ways to discuss the cost of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Since brain injuries are becoming one of the leading causes of death, there is a cost to society. We will cover that topic in a future article. The cost of Traumatic Brain Injury to a victim, their family, and their dependents often exceeds even the most aggressive estimations. We will explore the different types of financial impact encountered in the event of a traumatic brain injury.
Direct Medical Cost of Traumatic Brain Injury
When a person sustains a significant jolt to the head, they may suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Keep in mind that the jolt may not be direct to the head as any violent impact or movement of the body may cause the head to move so quickly that the brain bounces off the skull’s interior. When a person receives such an impact, and any suspicion of a brain injury is present, a qualified medical evaluation is needed as soon as possible.
The direct cost of medical treatment, depending on the severity of the injury, can be extensive. A typical visit to the emergency room typically costs from $150 – $3000 and can be tens of thousands of dollars. The emergency physician will likely want an x-ray or CT scan in the case of a suspected moderate or severe Traumatic Brain Injury, which can add another five to eight thousand dollars to the emergency room visit. One of the effects of a traumatic brain injury can be swelling of the brain inside the skull. A Traumatic brain injury patient may need an emergency craniectomy which will incur the cost of $20,000 to $40,000
More severe Traumatic Brain Injuries require hospitalization beyond emergency care. The average cost of a hospital stay in the US was $3,949 per day in 2017. The average hospital stay for TBI patients on initial diagnosis was 3.2 days if the patient did not require a stay in the intensive care unit (ICU). For patients admitted to the ICU, the average hospital stay was 7.3 days. In summary, the average hospital stay cost incurred in 2017 for a TBI was from $12,637 to $28,828.
There are other medical costs related to outpatient care, follow up visits, and ongoing therapies that are difficult to quantify and highly dependent on the case. Depending on the severity, the costs for care can continue for months or years into the future.
Caregiving and Loss of Independence
More severe Traumatic Brain Injuries can leave a patient with disabilities requiring continuous care. Since a TBI can cause memory loss, the patient may need memory care with costs similar to Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. The US average monthly price for a semi-private room in an assisted living facility is $4,051 as of 2019. Memory care units are typically 30% to 50% more expensive.
A TBI victim may be fortunate enough to have family members willing to assist and provide care. This option is not without costs. The caregiver or family member usually has to keep their job to cover living expenses. Even with the help of family, in-home health services costs are similar to the assisted living facilities.
Partial loss of balance and impaired motor skills are common problems with TBI patients. Extensive rehabilitation therapy can often restore mobility. Rehabilitation for TBI patients is a long and expensive process. The cost varies by location and the type of services required, but the average price for physical therapy in the US is about $125 per session. Expect at least six months of treatment for a traumatic brain injury that requires rehabilitation services. However, the therapy may be needed for much longer than six months, depending on the initial injury.
Loss of Productivity
At the very least, a person with a mild traumatic brain injury should avoid any activity that risks another jolt. TBI patients often can not travel or work for a few days. Moderate traumatic brain injuries require more down-time for observation, treatment, and recovery.
There are many scenarios where a traumatic brain injury victim cannot return to work for an extended period. There are also cases where an individual cannot perform the same type of work ever again. For example, a truck driver may not drive a truck for safety reasons after specific brain injuries. Unfortunately, these situations almost always involve a long-term loss of significant income.
So while the absence from work is the most prominent and initial cost, you must also consider the long-term result of a person changing their occupation, which is usually the higher cost over a lifetime. Also, the person and their family may need help with tasks in their home that they could do before the injury.
Quality of Life
It is impossible to assess some costs resulting from TBI in terms of financial impact. Cognitive and motor skill impairment can mean much more than a loss of income. The prices of in-patient and outpatient services have been discussed, but additional costs can accumulate related to general living expenses, such as transportation.
The emotional toll of becoming dependent on family and others for daily living can’t be understated. Relationships can be strained, challenging to maintain and develop.
Effects On Others
Loved-ones and spouses never planned on becoming a caregiver for an impaired person. Still, they usually become a primary source of support for a severe traumatic brain injury victim. In some cases, spouses and family give up jobs so they can stay home and provide care. It’s not just the victim who loses the ability to realize dreams and ambitions, and it’s often other members of their family as well.
The Importance of Understanding the Cost of Traumatic Brain Injury
There is a lot of help available for traumatic brain injury victims. Depending on the severity, victims can often fully recover, or at least recover enough to maintain a productive life. Suppose you or someone you know is impacted by an accident or other cause of traumatic brain injury. In that case, you must seek the best medical attention available and seek out support and care that promote the fullest recovery possible. Depending on where you live and how your health care costs are paid, part or all of the financial burden may be the victim or family’s responsibility. Unfortunately, for many people, the quality of care may depend on financial resources. This is particularly true of longer-term care after immediate medical care.
Get Legal Advice
Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by motor vehicle accidents, industrial accidents, faulty equipment, and numerous other incidents that may not be the victims’ fault. If your injury was the fault of a company, manufacturer, employer, or another responsible party, it is imperative that you seek out competent legal representation as soon as possible. The total cost of a traumatic brain injury on you and your family may be much more than you realize at first. Many of the costs may not become evident until much later. Complications from traumatic brain injuries can arise sometime after the initial impact.
Even if you don’t think another party is responsible, many lawyers will investigate your case at no charge to you. Just make sure you are talking to a lawyer with experience in traumatic brain injury and your circumstances. A competent attorney will consider all of the immediate cost of traumatic brain injury and ongoing costs and potential costs to you and your family. Keep in mind that large companies and insurance companies have excellent lawyers who specialize in paying the minimum compensation for injuries. Therefore it is essential that you have legal representation that will help you get compensated adequately.