Study finds brain injuries are chronic conditions that require lifelong management

March 27, 2023
Educating people about TBI can help patients live better lives.

More than 1.5 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, oftentimes resulting in permanent disability, including struggles with memory, mobility, mental health and cognitive function. For those with a TBI, their struggles usually don’t end when treatment does.

An ongoing longitudinal study of 1,400 patients by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine reveals that traumatic brain injuries don’t stabilize after a couple of years as previously thought. 

Instead, as researchers analyzed more than 25 years of data, they found that TBIs need to be treated as a dynamic and chronic condition that requires ongoing resources and care. 

The study, funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, checks in with TBI patients annually for two years following their injury and every five years thereafter for the rest of their lives. Phone calls include discussions about their progress and setbacks, as well as common issues for those with TBIs such as mental health disorders and substance abuse. The study revealed that the treatment philosophy for TBI needs to change. 

As researchers learn more about risk factors for decline and variables associated with improvement, they are designing new interventions and protocols to help places like hospitals, homeless and domestic violence shelters, treatment centers and prisons screen for those with TBIs and provide effective care.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center release