In the August 2010 issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma two physicians highly familiar with TBI urged the insurance industry and health care system to reclassify TBI as a chronic disease instead of a one-time event. The two physicians issued this recommendation after conducting an exhaustive medical literature review on 25 years worth of research on the effects of TBI. They are neurologist Brent Masel, M.D. (a clinical associate professor at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston) and Douglas DeWitt, M.D. (Director of the Moody Center for Traumatic Brain & Spinal Cord Injury and President/Director of the Transitional Learning Center in Galveston for rehabilitation of TBI survivors).
Dr. Masel and Dr. DeWitt argue that TBI should be treated as a chronic disease because it sets off an ongoing process which impacts multiple organ systems over a long period of time and which may cause or accelerate other diseases and disorders that can reduce life expectancy.
Examples of conditions which TBI can cause include: neurologic disorders like epilepsy; neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; neuroendocrine disorders such as pituitary or growth hormone deficiency; psychiatric and psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse; and non-neurologic disorders such as sexual dysfunction and metabolic dysfunction affecting the body’s ability to absorb, utilize, and convert amino acids.
According to these physicians, viewing TBI as a single episode (which heals the way a broken bone does) deprives persons with TBI of the long term treatment and support they deserve as well as the level of research funding required to find ways to minimize or avoid the many potential complications of TBI.