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"Mild" traumatic brain injury can cause long-term cognitive problems

The brain is an incredibly complex and amazing organ. But because of its complexity, even "mild" injuries to the brain can have significant long-term consequences. The good news is that we are beginning to become aware of the dangers posed by concussions and head trauma, and medical professionals have made strides diagnosing and treating the symptoms of such injuries. Unfortunately, however, there are no complete preventative measures one can take to protect from head trauma. While treatments can mitigate symptoms, there is no cure for TBI.

Recent study affirms mental and emotional difficulties common in the wake of head injury

A recent study by researchers at Trondheim University in Norway found that mild traumatic brain injury can lead to significant long-term consequences on a person's physical, mental and emotional health. Mild TBIs were defined as head trauma with unconsciousness lasting no more than a half-hour and no memory loss lasting longer than 24 hours after the injury.

The study, published at the end of 2015, looked at 67 individuals who had suffered mild to severe traumatic brain injury within the last five years. Compared to those who had never suffered a head injury, the TBI survivors reported higher levels of depression, more difficulty regulating their emotions and certain cognitive difficulties.

Sadly, the study noted that when TBIs occurred at a younger age, the TBI survivor had a greater chance for a "poor long-term outcome," including a greater chance of depression, rule-breaking behavior and lack of judgment.

TBI and head trauma awareness increasing

It is estimated that over 5 million Americans suffer medical consequences as a result of head injury. Most traumatic head injuries occur in car accidents, in the workplace, or in slips and falls.

The public, especially at the close of the professional football season, hears regularly about head trauma and preventing concussions through safety measures like wearing a helmet and using a seatbelt whenever there is the potential for injury.

But even if an individual takes proper safety measures, is not at increased risk of repeated head trauma, and does not suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or other progressive degenerative disease linked to repeated concussions, there can be significant and long-lasting consequences for even one instance of a mild TBI.

It is not just in your head

After a TBI, it can be difficult to spot symptoms of lasting emotional side effects. An event like a serious car accident, in addition to causing physical injury, can leave emotional scars. And because mental and emotional medical conditions are not always visibly apparent, it can be difficult for the person affected to know that they need medical treatment.

But the symptoms and consequences of a TBI are very real and should not be ignored. If you or a loved one recently suffered a concussion or other TBI, it is imperative to get proper medical treatment as soon as possible.

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