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ICU patients often leave with cognitive impairments

According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, many patients who stay in an intensive care unit come out with brain dysfunction which affect memory, decision-making and quality of life. The study found that many ICU patients walk away with cognitive impairments similar to those seen in early Alzheimer’s disease and in concussion victims. In addition, these effects are often not temporary.

The study, which sought to determine what factors are behind the cognitive decline, focused on the affects of delirium on the brain. Researchers pointed out that patients who experienced delirium for longer periods of time came out with a greater degree of cognitive impairment than those with shorter periods of delirium. 

The study also looked at what can possibly be done to reduce the duration of delirium, pointing to reduction of sedative exposure, keeping patients alert, and getting them to sit up and walk sooner rather than later.  

Those with cognitive impairments know how debilitating they can be on a person, and the way they can affect daily tasks and the ability to work. Without presence of mind, work of any kind can suffer, making it difficult for the impaired individual to maintain a job and support himself or herself.

For those with debilitating cognitive impairments, Social Security disability benefits may be available. The first step is to seek out an experienced attorney and put together the best application possible. Having an advocate is also helpful in the event an appeal becomes necessary, which it is in a certain number of cases. 

Source: Fox News, “Study shows ICU patients often suffer long-term brain impairment similar to concussions, Alzheimer’s disease,” Amanda Woerner, October

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