December 8, 2023

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of disability and death worldwide. Traumatic brain injury can result from penetrating wounds, severe blows to the head with shrapnel or debris, etc. Traumatic brain injuries caused due to a powerful jolt to the head or accident often result in short-term or long-term symptoms like concentration issues and difficulty with decision making, forgetfulness, and problems with cognitive thinking. Hence, it becomes difficult for the survivors to manage their own money throughout the treatment and recovery.

Common causes of TBIs

A sudden blow or jolt to the body or head can cause TBI. However, damage depends on a plethora of factors, like the force of impact and the nature of the traumatic injury. Some common causes that lead to TBI are:

  • Falls: It is the most common cause of TBI. Falls from a ladder, bed, downstairs, bath, etc., cause TBI, particularly in young children and older adults.
  • Vehicle-related collisions: Accidents that involve bicycles, cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians involved in such collisions lead to TBI.
  • Violence: Assaults such as domestic violence, gunshot wounds, child abuse are common causes of TBI. Another cause of TBI is the Shaken baby syndrome, observed in infants caused by violent shaking.
  • Sports injuries: Sports like lacrosse, soccer, baseball, boxing, football, skateboarding, hockey, and other high-impact sports cause TBI, particularly in youth.
  • Combat injuries and explosives: TBI because of explosive blasts is common in active-duty military personnel. 

How does a TBI affect your finances, and how to move forward?

Managing finances is complicated, especially for those who have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI). They may have trouble creating a budget or forget where they spent their money. According to the University of Alabama research, TBI patients show a marked decline in making the right decisions related to the finances immediately after the injury. In addition, some patients show impairment on complex money-related skills even after six months of injury. 

The after-effects of even the mild traumatic brain Injury can change a survivor’s abilities and behavior. This means they may not do the same sort of work that they did before the injury. This can cause job loss and significant financial stress. Furthermore, extensive medical costs associated with TBI treatment, psychotherapy needs, etc., lead to a financial burden. Also, finding and sustaining employment problems and higher divorce rates after the injury adds more complexity to this issue.

Managing the finances after the injury is difficult. However, to move forward, the patient can inspect his/her monthly expenses. The TBI survivor can then figure out where the costs can be cut short and necessary to spend the money to maintain a reasonable standard of American living. 

Importance of getting help with managing the money post-traumatic brain injury

Friends and family can help in organizing the medical bills or insurance paperwork. They can help by checking those bills are paid in time to avoid late fees. 

Family members can authorize attaching a note to the account about special medical events, lenders, credit card issuers, and utility companies to waive any penalties or late fees applied in the initial weeks after the TBI. This small help from family and friends can aid in the recovery process of the TBI patient as the recovery and rehabilitation is a long and stressful journey. 

For many TBI patients, recovery takes up to several years. The TBI survivor may have a disability as an ongoing struggle for the rest of his/her life. Both in the immediate aftermath and throughout the recovery process, a patient should not have to worry about managing the money and his/her financial stability.

Steps to regain footing financially after a traumatic brain injury

Here are some steps for getting back on track financially after a traumatic brain injury:

  • Prioritizing: As TBI takes a significant toll on finances, it is best to prioritize things like keeping expenses minimum by eating home-cooked meals as they are cheaper yet healthier. If cooking meals is not an option, eat out for a short term or ask for help from church groups. Cut down unnecessary expenses and focus on spending on basic needs and treatment.  
  • Budget: Making a budget is crucial while suffering from a TBI. Expenses should preferably be less than the income coming in.
  • Using credit cards wisely: Avoid impulse buying and be mindful while using credit cards.

Ways to live life without financial worry or stress after a TBI

Here are some tips for living a life without financial worry post-TBI.

  • Utilize social services: The Brain Injury Association of America and its network of state affiliates offer critical information on available sources that can help TBI survivors.
  • Social security: They pay benefits to those who cannot work because of some medical conditions expected to last at least one year or may result in death. Family members of some disabled workers may receive finances from Social Security. However, Federal law needs a more precise definition of disability.

The best way to live without financial stress and manage money is by staying open and honest with friends and family. Let them know that times are tight after the TBI, so for special occasions or holidays, you’d appreciate gift cards.