October 1, 2023

According to reports, around 1.5 million Americans suffer from traumatic brain injuries per year. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have severe consequences and may lead to permanent damages associated with it. Therefore, traumatic injuries demand a tremendous amount of medical care and treatment

The total cost of TBI in the United States is approximately $49 billion every year. Hospitalization costs around $32 billion of the total cost. The remaining $17 billion goes to expenses related to TBI fatalities, including funeral expenses and other costs.

Some patients may need 24 hours of supervision at the assisted living facility or a nursing home. The cost of caring for the TBI survivors outside the hospital is staggering and can range from $600,000 to $1.9 million. According to Chandi Edmonds, the lifetime expenses of a TBI patient’s treatment can range from $85,000 to $3 million. However, there are ways to help TBI patients with the recovery process. 

Brain injuries – forms and levels of severity

Depending on the timing, the force of impact, and several other factors, brain injuries can vary in levels of severity from patient to patient. There are various forms of brain injuries which include mild, moderate, and severe TBI. In mild traumatic brain injury, the brain cells are affected temporarily. However, more severe injuries like moderate to severe TBI can cause long-term complications or even death.

Bespoke treatment plan after TBI

Traumatic brain injury shows wide-ranging cognitive, physical, psychological, and physiological effects on different patients. The symptoms may appear immediately after the injury or after a certain amount of time. Hence, the treatment plan for all brain injuries depends on the injury’s severity, type, and location. In addition, each patient’s treatment and recovery plans for brain injuries need to be individualized, as each person’s abilities and needs after TBI are different. Thus, TBI makes each case unique, and no one-size-fits-all treatment plans for brain injuries.

Financial stress post-traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injuries are devastating both physically and financially. In moderate-to-severe cases, TBI results in long-term disabilities that need round-the-clock medical care or treatment. Depending upon the severity of the injury, the patient’s recovery time ranges from 6 months to 2 years after mild to moderate type of injury. For a full recovery, the initial 6 months following the head injury is the most crucial and can put the patient or his/her family under financial stress. So, it becomes essential to understand how long the treatment and care are needed post-injury.

The cost of brain injury treatment, therapy, and rehabilitation

The first medical bill that a TBI survivor will probably receive is the emergency room bill. It includes bills for MRIs, follow-up brain scans, or other imaging studies. The treatment and imaging are crucial because, most times, TBI symptoms do not manifest immediately.

Besides the initial treatment or hospital emergency room bill, people who sustain traumatic brain injuries have to endure other medical expenses. These costs include clinician or neurologist bills, prescription medication costs, physical therapy costs, and costs of vocational rehabilitation or training. In addition, in cases of severe TBI, the patient may have to bear nursing home or assisted living costs and expenses of retaining home-care nurses or caregivers.

Costs of living with a brain injury

Depending on the severity of TBI, survivors often face long-term disability. It is generally caused by moderate to severe injury. In the US, the prevalence of long-term disability is estimated at 3.32 million to 5.3 million. The TBI survivors have limitations related to activities of daily living, social integration, instrumental activities, and financial independence. 

Because of such limitations, TBI survivors may not do the jobs they used to do before the injury. This leads to lost wages and earning power. Some TBI survivors can receive welfare or disability benefits, and insurance providers help with the medical bills. 

Insurance providers may offer some help with costs associated with recovering from a brain injury

Many Americans get insurance through their union/ trade, employer, or professional association. Policies and benefits differ widely and may be subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Insurance provides a choice of hospitals and doctors and fewer restrictions on the amount of care. This help with cost plays a significant role in the recovering patient from a brain injury. 

Compensated by insurance companies

Although medical bills may be covered through various insurance policies, one must understand that insurance companies may not compensate for the lost wages. However, the workers’ compensation system helps the TBI victim where the employer pays or gets insurance to pay for the lost wages and medical cost of an injured employee on the job.

Thus, the costs of recovery from a TBI are huge, and understanding the insurance policies is crucial for some assistance with expenses related to the injury.