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Skull surgery can save lives, but at what cost?

After a traumatic brain injury, the brain often swells within the skull, which can cause further damage if the swelling is not reduced. There are two ways that physicians can reduce the swelling in such a patient: with drugs, or with surgery. A Cambridge University study now shows that the surgery could prevent half of deaths following a traumatic brain injury. However, survival after the surgery could come at the cost of a reduced quality of life, which in some cases could be significant. 

The surgery is an old one which some might find barbaric, if it weren't for its efficacy. It involves simply removing a part of the skull to relieve the pressure on the brain. After the surgery, it can take months before the skull can be closed with a bone graft. 

The study examined more than 400 people who had suffered a traumatic brain injury from car accidents, falls or assaults. Twice as many patients who received the surgery survived when compared with patients who had received a medical intervention to reduce swelling. 

While this skull surgery appears to improve survival rates of traumatic brain injury victims, however, full recovery is not guaranteed. Patients have experienced a range of outcomes, from significant recovery to remaining in a vegetative state. 

If you have a loved one who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, it's important to have all the information you need to pursue the option that is best for that person's recovery. Whether the recovery involves surgery, medication or both, an experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you secure the resources you need to give your loved on the best chance of achieving a productive and healthy future. 

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