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McNeely Stephenson: Improving the Conversation on Brain Injuries and Mental Health

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Indianapolis, Indiana, Aug. 13, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Every day in the United States, more than 150 people die from injuries that include traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Each year, around 1.7 million people are diagnosed with a TBI.

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As an attorney who handles catastrophic injury cases, Mike Stephenson has years of experience working with clients who have suffered from a TBI. He said that the conversation about these injuries is often centered around the physical effects, though his experiences have taught him how serious the mental consequences can be for sufferers.

 

"When someone suffers a brain injury, the damage can have massive effects on their personality, mood and overall mental health," Stephenson said. "Highly sociable people can become reclusive. Happy people become depressed. These injuries can cause a dramatic change in someone's mental state, and it's never a positive shift."

 

Several studies bear out Stephenson's observation. A 2014 Danish study found that TBI victims were four times more likely to develop a mental illness, while a separate study in 2016 found that concussions, typically classified as "mild" TBIs, could increase a person's risk for suicide three-fold. Another study from 2004 found that over half of TBI victims suffered from depression.

 

"When you explore the lives of TBI victims, you come to understand that these injuries have ripple effects throughout a person's life that also affect loved ones," Stephenson said. "Not only are they impacted in ways that diminish their enjoyment of life, but their family members are forced to cope with the fact that their loved one has changed in very significant ways."

 

Traumatic brain injuries often stem from vehicle crashes, falls and being struck by an object. They are characterized by a blow or jolt to the head that causes damage to the brain.

 

The mental health effects can be particularly pronounced in younger individuals. The Danish TBI study found that head injuries occurring to victims between the ages of 11 and 15 years were the leading predictor for the development of schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder.

 

"Head injuries among young people are a major public health concern," the McNeely Stephenson firm said. "Their brains are still developing, and these injuries can drastically disrupt their mental well-being. Parents should be aware of the ways even milder forms of TBI might impact their children."

 

Brain injuries can lead to memory problems, difficulties processing language, personality shifts, mood disorders and social withdrawal. Knowing that an injury is causing these conditions can help the sufferer and loved ones identify the root of the problem and find ways to move forward together, Stephenson said.

 

"When people don't understand the scope of a traumatic brain injury's effects, they can misinterpret the actions and attitudes of a loved one who is dealing with a very serious injury," Stephenson said. "This can further isolate someone who is already isolated. Being able to identify the cause of the changes is key, and that starts with greater public awareness of the effects of TBI."

Mike Stephenson
McNeely Stephenson 
8552062555
indianapilaw@gmail.com

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