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A craniectomy doesn't always prevent a severe disability

Head injuries can be life-threatening and often require swift medical action to prevent fatalities. Sometimes when a person in Philadelphia suffers a severe injury to his or her head, doctors need to remove a portion of the person's skull, in a procedure that is known as a craniectomy. Doing so releases the pressure in the person's brain, and is often the only way to keep the person alive.

Unfortunately, despite being a life-saving procedure, a recent clinical trial has revealed that patients in such situations can suffer permanent disabilities. According to the trial, approximately 30 percent of those with severe head injuries who received a craniectomy passed away, despite the procedure. However, in comparison, 52 percent of those with severe head injuries who did not get a craniectomy passed away. Those who received a craniectomy were still prone to end up with a long-term disability.

For example, approximately 18 percent of those who received a craniectomy depended on others to take care of them for 12 months following the procedure. Approximately 13 percent of those who received a craniectomy suffered from a severe disability, but despite that could live independently in their homes for an extended amount of time. Approximately 22 percent of those who received a craniectomy suffered from a moderate disability. They could stay at home, but still needed the help of others outside their home. Finally, approximate 10 percent of those who received a craniectomy recovered well and were able to live normally following the procedure.

As this shows, while a craniectomy could save a person's life, that person could still end up with a disability that is in some cases long-lasting if not permanent. When a person suffers from a severe or permanent disability, they may be unable to care for themselves, much less go to work. It goes without saying that being unable to work can cause an extreme financial strain on a person, who, due to their disability may at the same time be incurring significant expenses related to their medical treatment, therapy, rehabilitation and caretaking. Therefore, people in such situations may want to consider filing for Social Security disability benefits for injury, as a means for handling such expenses.

Source: WebMD, "This After Severe Head Injury Brings Mixed Results," Dennis Thompson, Sept. 8, 2016

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