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The average cost of a traumatic brain injury

Significant head injuries claim many lives each year in Rhode Island and many other states. For those who survive, the consequences can be devastating physically, emotionally and financially. The Centers for Disease Control states that the number of Americans who live with the consequences and disabilities from a severe traumatic brain injury is around 5.3 million.


The effects in the patients’ lives can be seen in an altered sense of vision, hearing or touch as well as emotional changes, such as anxiety, depression and aggression. If the patient required hospitalization after injury, the chances of having a lasting disability one year after the event is 43 percent, and can include a loss of motor and cognitive function. All these consequences can add up to extreme financial stress for the injured and his or her family.


A report by the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that most survivors of severe TBI lived with family for support at four years after the injury, and did not attend school or work. The behavior, mood and cognitive changes were reported as the most debilitating effects and contribute to the high risk of suicide among survivors. This physical, financial and psychological burden often remains constant for the rest of the individual’s lifetime, placing immense stress on family members and caregivers.


In terms of specific financial cost, the average cost among patients in the study depended on the severity of the injury. Acute care for moderate TBIs resulted in a cost of $25,174 to $81,153 while mild cases were between $33,284 and $35,954. Different options for life care determined continued annual costs, with a facility placement ranging from $49,688 to $84,082, depending on the type of facility. If the patient chose care at home, the annual cost was just over $222,000 while rehabilitation increased that number to $450,000.

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