New Report Lays Out “Roadmap” For Recovering From Traumatic Brain Injuries

Over 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer a traumatic brain injury every year.

A new strategy is being proposed for handling recovery from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which calls for updated methods of classifying head trauma and the creation of a national task force.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are suffered by more than 1.5 million people each year in the United States, and can result from even a minor blow to the head, or what many people know as a typical concussion. However, side effects of brain injuries can have long-lasting side effects that reach decades beyond the injury, with more than 5.3 million Americans experiencing a permanent TBI-related disability.

In response to the growing concerns surrounding brain injuries, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine announced a new report on February 1, which calls for the creation of an updated TBI classification system, which researchers say should help both with patient care, TBI research, and rehabilitation.

Currently, care for head injuries in the U.S. often fails to meet the needs of affected individuals, families, and communities, according to the consensus study. Researchers found that current TBI guidelines used by doctors have little effect on improving outcomes and survival rates for patients.

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Prior research has shown suffering a TBI in childhood increases the risk a child will have long-term side effects, including ADHD and other problems later in life. It also increases a person’s risk of suffering a stroke and having Dementia decades later.

An outdated classification system, which uses mild, moderate and severe classifications, and a lack of framework for providing care are part of the main problems, the researchers said.

New Recommendations for TBI Care and Research

The report recommends an updated classification system using the Glasgow Coma Scale score, which grades head trauma severity from 3 to 15, as well as using results from CT scans and blood tests.

The new report also calls for integrated and specialized care for patients with TBI, noting that many are lost to follow up, which does not give doctors and researchers the ability to fully understand the long-term effects of suffering a TBI in order to develop adequate care strategies. Regular reassessment is needed and should be considered essential to a person’s condition, the researchers determined.

Additionally, the report recommends interventions for family care givers as well, since they also face stress when addressing the needs of a family member with TBI.

The report also urges the National Institutes of Health to convene a TBI Classification Workgroup and calls on federal agencies to play a role in TBI care, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It recommends an expert panel is convened in regular intervals to update clinical practice guidelines, including updates on new research and to form “expert consensus on best practices.”

In addition, the report calls for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with organizations involved in TBI prevention, care, and rehabilitation and a TBI data system to track TBI-related deaths and long-term outcomes should be established.

The expert panel also recommended the US Secretary of Health and Human Services establish a national TBI Task Force to create a national framework and implementation for improving TBI care within 2 years.

The report was created at the request of the US Department of Defense and the conclusions were made by a committee of TBI experts.

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