Can You Die From a Brain Injury Years Later?

Can You Die From a Brain Injury Years Later?
Calendar icon November 3, 2023
Can You Die From a Brain Injury Years Later?
  • Traumatic brain injuries vary in severity and can stem from various causes, such as falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and assaults. Different types of injuries, from concussions to subdural hematomas, exhibit varying symptoms and risks.
  • Brain injuries might not immediately manifest all symptoms. It’s crucial to recognize the immediate signs like headaches, dizziness, and confusion, as many symptoms can develop over time. Seeking prompt medical attention is essential.
  • Brain injuries, especially repeated ones, can lead to chronic health issues, including cognitive impairments, mood swings, seizures, and potentially degenerative brain diseases like CTE or Alzheimer’s.
  • Brain injuries, even mild ones, carry the risk of early death, particularly in individuals under 55. Repeated head injuries can exacerbate these risks and may lead to concerns like short-term memory loss or problems with movement.

Brain injuries are incredibly serious, but for many years, the long-term implications were not fully understood. However, with high-profile public awareness in places like the NFL, the long-term risks of brain injuries are starting to be taken more seriously.

A moderate to serious traumatic brain injury, or TBI, carries long-term health risks, from physical to cognitive. But is it possible to die from a TBI years after the initial trauma?

Understanding Brain Injuries 

Not all brain injuries are created equal. Depending on the type and severity, as well as the circumstances around the initial trauma, the long-term outlook can be very different.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

While brain injuries are associated with trauma to the head, they’re not precisely the same thing. A brain injury is any injury that damages the tissue of the brain itself. Some basic types include:

  • Concussion: A brain injury caused by sudden impact to the head. Usually considered relatively mild but still carries significant risk, particularly with repeat concussions. Symptoms may include headache, confusion, dizziness, or loss of consciousness.
  • Subdural hematoma: A more serious brain injury, a subdural hematoma is when blood forms into pools on the surface of the brain, generating pressure that can be dangerous. The most common cause is head trauma, but a subdural hematoma may not appear until after the initial injury. Symptoms are similar to a concussion, which is another reason to seek prompt medical attention.
  • Open TBI: Most brain injuries, like concussions, are considered “closed” TBIs, meaning the skull remains fully intact. An open TBI involves a break in the skull and is always extremely serious.

Common causes of brain injuries

  • Falls: Especially prevalent among children and older adults, a fall from a significant height or on a slippery surface can easily result in a brain injury. They’re also a common cause of workplace injuries.
  • Motor vehicle accidents: The sheer force of impacts involved in motor vehicle accidents means that even a mild crash can result in severe head injuries. Car crashes, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents can all result in traumatic brain injuries.
  • Sports injuries: Contact sports such as football, hockey, and soccer can expose athletes to brain injuries. High-impact collisions, falls, or direct blows to the head are unfortunately common. Concussions are a major risk, one that is especially problematic in youth sports.
  • Assaults: Unfortunately, blows to the head are often intentional acts of violence. Punches, kicks, or weapons can all cause severe brain injuries.

Symptoms of brain injuries

The immediate symptoms of brain injuries can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion or disorientation, memory loss, and loss of consciousness. 

It’s important to note that not all brain injuries will be obvious right away. Many symptoms can develop over time. If there’s any risk of a traumatic brain injury, it’s best to get checked out by a medical professional right away. Better safe than sorry.

The Long-Term Impact of Brain Injuries

Some brain injuries heal fairly quickly without serious complications. Others can cause 

The long-term effects can include chronic headaches, persistent dizziness, and seizures. There can also be mental symptoms, like cognitive impairments or mood swings. 

Some studies have also suggested that, in the long term, brain injuries–especially repeated brain injuries–may cause degenerative brain diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) or Alzheimer’s disease.

The impacts can be wide-ranging. According to the CDC, among people who have survived a TBI within the last five years:

  • 57% are moderately to severely disabled
  • 55% do not have a job (but were employed at the time of their injury)
  • 50% return to a hospital at least once
  • 33% rely on others for help with everyday activities
  • 12% reside in nursing homes or other institutions

Can You Die From a Brain Injury Years Later?

People hospitalized with mild brain injuries have nearly double the risk of dying in the next 15 years compared to people who haven’t suffered a brain injury. 

The severity of the injury plays a major factor, but even mild head injuries carry risks, especially when repeated. Unlike many other health risks, brain injuries are most strongly associated with early death in those under the age of 55. However, older adults can be more likely to take falls.

These risks are even greater for repeated head injuries. Even impacts that do not cause any symptoms can, over time, add up to health concerns like short-term memory loss or problems with movement and are associated with higher rates of early death.

Prevention and Treatment of Brain Injuries Following a Personal Injury Accident

The risks of brain injuries can be reduced by addressing two of the three common causes:

  • While driving in motor vehicles, use seatbelts and other safety measures like booster seats for children. Avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Provide tips on how to prevent brain injuries, such as wearing helmets while biking or playing sports, using seat belts in vehicles, and making homes safer for older adults.

Seeking Medical Attention After a Brain Injury

In the immediate aftermath of a brain injury, seek medical attention right away. 

Even if you don’t feel like your impact was that serious, you may have lingering injuries that you’re not aware of. Getting checked out by a medical professional can catch things you might not notice. 

They’ll also have treatment plans for you to follow that will minimize risks of long-term complications whether you have a brain injury or not. Be sure to follow any treatment plans prescribed by a doctor because they may be treating a brain injury you aren’t aware of.

Rehabilitation and Support Services

Physical and occupational therapy and other rehabilitation programs can assist in regaining lost function and making the best possible recovery. If there are long-term or permanent effects of the injury, counseling, and support groups can help cope with those challenges.

Contact Cellino Law to Speak with an Experienced Brain Injury Attorney

The aftermath of a traumatic brain injury is always a difficult time. Cellino Law is here to help. As experienced brain injury attorneys, we will be in your corner, providing guidance, support, and legal representation in your case. We’re committed to getting you the compensation you deserve.

Contact Cellino Law at (888) 888-8888 or use our online contact form, and we’ll get back to you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to fully recover from a severe brain injury?

Recovery takes time and happens at a different pace for everyone who suffers a traumatic brain injury. Most healing takes place in the first two years after an accident, but newer research suggests that patients can still recover additional function more than ten years later.

How much is the average brain injury settlement?

Brain injury settlements can range from a few thousand dollars to over a million, and any compensation awarded will be based on the severity of the damages. If your brain injury causes long-term impacts such as lifestyle changes or job loss, you likely have a very strong case.

What steps can I take if my brain injury was caused by someone else’s negligence?

If you suffered a brain injury, and you believe it is due to someone else’s negligence, it’s possible to pursue compensation for any damages you suffer.

Your first priority should be to seek medical attention. Make sure all your injuries are well-documented, and be sure to follow up and catch any lingering issues. Then, get in touch with a qualified attorney like the team at Cellino Law to explore your options.

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Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.

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