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Traumatic brain injuries are not always easy to detect

Newark residents may be surprised to hear that approximately two million people in the United States annually will sustain a traumatic brain injury. Moreover, around 5.3 million people in the United States currently have a disability that relates back to having sustained a TBI. However, detecting such an injury can be difficult, leading to TBIs being called a "silent epidemic" by one physician.

For example, one person who suffered a TBI after being injured during an attempted robbery reports feeling "foggy" mentally for over three months. He'd enter a room but then forget why he entered the room in the first place. Even today he says that the effects of the TBI are still being felt and may last a lifetime.

Another person reported suffering from a TBI after falling off a chair. She subsequently experienced migraines, had a difficult time dealing with lights and sound and even reported experiencing dementia. However, it took over two years for her injury to be classified as a TBI.

According to one physician, a TBI often involves the myelin covering of cells in a person's brain. Injuries to this part of the brain will not show up on standard scans. However, when these cells are damaged, a person can experience dementia and can have a difficult time keeping their emotions in check. The difficulties in detecting TBIs in this situation coupled with the mental and emotional symptoms of a TBI often lead to a misdiagnosis of a mental illness, rather than a TBI.

As this shows, a serious TBI can lead to life-long disabilities. If a person's TBI results in a disability that is expected to last at least 12 months, that person may want to seek Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration recognizes that TBIs can be disabling in some situations. If the right elements are met, a person suffering from the long-term effects of a TBI may be able to obtain the SSDI benefits for injury they need to afford their daily living expenses.

Source: Hernando Sun, "Traumatic Brain Injury: A Silent Epidemic," accessed May 1, 2017

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