When you break your arm or throw out your back, your response is to head to an emergency room or see your family physician. However, people don’t always follow this same line of care when it comes to head injuries, which is a shame because alongside your heart, your brain is arguably your most vital organ. This sentiment for needing to get professional medical assistance after a head injury only becomes clearer when we take a closer look at some recent statistics.
According to a study released earlier today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been an increase in the number of TBI-related deaths that are tied to suicide or homicide. Suicide is now the top cause of death tied to traumatic brain injury.
Now, the study stops short of explaining the exact link between traumatic brain injuries and suicide, but it’s not hard to make some educated assumptions. TBIs can change the way we think, how we regulate emotions and contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, especially if we don’t actively treat the original head injury. Even when we do carefully monitor head injuries and do our best to recover, we still may experience cognitive side effects that we don’t really know how to handle.
There is no one-size-fits-all care plan for managing concussions and traumatic brain injuries, because every head injury is unique and will affect people in different ways. But it’s not just the physical effects that we need to focus on, it’s the mental side as well. We can’t just be asking about a patient’s balance or their sensitivity to light, we also need to ask if they’ve been having mood swings, negative thoughts or have been feeling anxious. Doctors need to educate themselves on the physical, mental and emotional side effects of head injuries and be proactive in looking for signs of a problem in their patients.
Of course, patients also need to play their part in helping make a full recovery after a head injury. If something doesn’t feel right, not just physically, but mentally, they need to talk to a doctor. A physician can refer you to a cognitive behavioral specialist who can help you sort through these feelings and come out stronger because of it. Most times these specialists are covered partly or fully by insurance, so don’t avoid getting the help you need because you’re unsure about your coverage options. Your health needs to take precedence, and you need to proactively care for your brain.
If you or someone you know has suffered a head injury, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office. We can provide you with a comprehensive evaluation, set you up with a treatment plan and monitor and treat both your mental and physical health as you progress through your recovery. For more information, or to talk to a specialist today, give Dr. Chang a call at (651) 430-3800.