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Treatment gap highlights shortages in brain injury care

Last year the shooting of former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords shone a spotlight on traumatic brain injuries and how they are treated. Giffords spent five months in a rehabilitation center that was covered by federal workers' compensation insurance. She worked with a team of specialists, receiving several kinds of therapy to aid her recovery.

This also highlighted the discrepancy in the care available to Giffords and the typical experience of most brain injury patients. Most insurance providers do not cover that kind of care, which leaves policyholders with few options.

Nearly 244,000 brain-injured people live in nursing homes, most of which are not equipped to provide the kind of specialized care that patients need. Giffords' staff has called attention to the "treatment gap" for brain injury victims in hopes that improvements can be made.

A traumatic brain injury can occur in cases of major trauma like that suffered by Gabrielle Giffords or from much small mishaps. A concussion or similar injury can be caused by any impact that causes a person's brain to hit his or her skull.

The effects of traumatic brain injuries can range from minor headaches from long-term implications for brain function and development. Symptoms include memory loss, affected speech, a change in eating or sleeping patterns, headaches or seizures. These symptoms could lead to personal injury claims seeking damages for lost wages, medical bills or pain and suffering.

If you or someone you care about have been affected by a traumatic brain injury it is wise to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help you review the circumstances of your accident, outline any potential claims for damages and allow you to focus on recovery and getting back to your life.

Source: BloombergBusinessweek, "Brain-Injured in Nursing Homes Without Care Gifford's Had," David Armstrong, Dec. 28, 2012

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