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Bryan P. Keenan

Traumatic brain injuries can lead to bankruptcy

Researcher at the National Center for Biotechnology Information carried out a study to see if those who suffered from spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries were more or less likely to fall into bankruptcy in the wake of these injuries. What they found was that there is absolutely a correlation, showing the role that medical debt plays in a person's long-term financial picture.

The study looked at those who filed for bankruptcy between 2001 and 2004, and it crossed that data with those who were hospitalized with a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury between 1996 and 2002. The study also looked at a control group to compare the data.

When looking at the randomly selected individuals who had filed for bankruptcy, the study found a mere 5 percent were dealing with medical debt. However, for those who had suffered from a TBI or a SCI, the percentage was more than five times higher: 26 percent.

To be considered substantial, medical debt had to make up over 20 percent of the total debt the person was facing.

On top of that, the study found that those with SCI and TBI histories did not have as many assets as those without those medical histories, suggesting that debt had perhaps prevented the acquisition of these assets. At the same time, those who had been injured more often got government assistance than those who had not.

On the whole, the findings were very clear: A TBI or SCI makes it more likely someone will have significant debt, face financial hardship, and file for bankruptcy. As such, those in this position need to know about their legal options in Pennsylvania.

Source: NCBI, "Personal Bankruptcy After Traumatic Brain or Spinal Cord Injury: The Role of Medical Debt," Annemarie Relyea-Chew, accessed May 12, 2016

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