PBA: A Secondary Neurological Syndrome That May Follow TBI

October 9, 2012

Traumatic brain injuries are devastating events in the lives of those unfortunate enough to suffer one. According to news-medical.net, Dr. Jonathan Fellus, Director of Rehabilitation at Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center explains that the brain controls essential bodily functions on which we rely every day. Among those functions are breathing, heart rate, body temperature, metabolism, thought processing, body movements, personality and all five senses: vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch. An injury to the brain typically affects the neurons and nerves that carry the messages sent by the brain to the organs that perform all those functions, hence the devastating effect that a brain injury has to the lives of those affected.

As we all know, the brain is divided into sections called lobes and each section controls different functions. For example, while some sections control the way a person thinks, others control they way that person acts, feels or moves his or her body. Therefore, depending on what part of the brain is injured, the effects on the victim will be different. Moreover, a brain injury may affect other important functions like blood pressure, hormonal balance and bowel or bladder control.

We must also remember that the effects of a TBI vary significantly from one individual to the next. While the initial goal of treatment is to normalize as soon (and as much) as possible the essential functions of the body (like respiratory management, sleep/wake cycle, bowel/bladder incontinence, communication and mobility), as the affected individual improves, so will his or her ability to communicate to his doctors other not so obvious, secondary problems.

Secondary Neurological Problems

And this improvement (with the increased communication it brings along) may help doctors identify some more subtle neurological problems they could have missed while dealing with the more immediately pressing neurological problems after the accident. An example is Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA). This is a neurological, not psychiatric, syndrome caused by a TBI and certain other underlying neurologic diseases, such as MS, ALS, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease and stroke.

PBA occurs when the primary neurological condition caused by the TBI damages the areas of the brain that control normal emotional expression, disrupting brain signaling and causing 'short circuits' in the form of unpredictable episodes of crying or laughing that can be frequent and severe, and may interfere with everyday life. These outbursts are often incongruent with the patient's current emotional state, leaving them to laugh or cry when they don't find things funny or sad.

Due to the unpredictable nature of PBA, episodes often cause embarrassment for those living with the condition, particularly in social settings. These crying or laughing episodes are often so embarrassing they can interfere with routine activities or cause patients to avoid certain situations altogether. Moreover, PBA sufferers often acknowledge that they spend significant time and energy trying to hold back or simply control their emotions. Needless to say that PBA has a negative impact on loved ones and caregivers too, making them struggle to adjust to these outbursts.

Therapy and Medication May Help

Although scientists are trying to find cures for the injured brain, therapy is currently the only avenue left to rehabilitate those suffering from these injuries. Dr. Fellus also mentions the success he's had treating patients suffering from PBA with NUEDEXTA, a new medication approved in October of 2010 by the Food & Drug Administration to treat this particular kind of illness.

Military Involvement

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, 1.7 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury each year in the United States alone. Although a traumatic brain injury may result from any number of activities, statistics show that the vast majority of these injuries come from motor vehicle accidents, battlefield injuries and sport related activities.

The high incidence of injuries among our soldiers in the war of Afghanistan and Iraq explains the interest of the Department of Defense of the United States in finding a cure. It also explains why the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs are investing over $100 million in research to improve diagnosis and treatment of both mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These have been called the hallmark injuries of service members returning from these wars, with about 15 percent of them suffering impairments due to PTSD alone, according to official statistics from the Department of Defense.

On the other hand, for those injured in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, often the only hope for help obtaining the funds necessary for rehabilitation will come from a lawyer experienced in handling these cases.

The Lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. Can Help

If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident, a truck accident, an amusement park accident or as a result of any other kind of accident, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases. Throughout the years, the Miami Dade County Traumatic Brain Injury Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. have represented many clients that have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

With over 70 years of combined experience, the lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. can help victims that have suffered any kind of traumatic brain injury as a result of an accident recover the funds they need for their rehabilitation. These funds may include money for the expensive treatments mentioned in these posts, for rehabilitation therapy, for your pain and suffering and for lost wages. Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today for a free consultation.