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Aggressive TBI care reduces long-term care costs

Aggressive care for victims of traumatic brain injuries could significantly decrease long-term costs associated with such ailments, including Social Security disability payments. That's good news for patients undergoing aggressive treatments. These individuals are more likely to get back on their feet and back to work sooner than those receiving less-invasive therapies.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine showed that aggressive care was significantly more expensive than routine or comfort care methods. Aggressive care includes procedures such as intracranial pressure monitoring and decompressive hemicraniectomy, during which a part of the skull is removed to allow the brain to swell. The high costs of these procedures were outweighed by the long-term benefits.

The study is the first to show the long-term financial benefits associated with aggressive care techniques, according to medical professionals. Of the 1,000 patients studied, researchers say that they found that the treatment benefits people of all ages, although younger patients are more likely to see dramatic changes as a result of the procedures. The aggressive methods are said to improve patients' quality of life and reduce the lifetime costs for traumatic brain injury management. In addition, the aggressive treatment simply improves the patients' chances for survival.

Despite the proven benefits of aggressive treatment, its application is inconsistent within the medical community. About 1.5 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury every year, according to estimates, resulting in 200,000 hospitalizations and more than 50,000 deaths. The cost of these injuries accounts for more than $60 billion in medical care and lost wages.

This is good news for those stuck on disability. Remember, the goal is to get eventually get off of it if possible, but it's important that it's there for those who need it.

Source: HealthDay, "Aggressive Care Best for Brain Trauma, Study Shows," HealthDay News, March 9, 2012.

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