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Do traumatic brain injuries increase divorce rates?

| Jul 15, 2021 | Divorce |

Many people in New Jersey suffer from traumatic brain injuries, known as TBIs, when they are involved in sports accidents, workplace falls and car crashes. For some TBI victims, recovery can put a lot of strain on a marriage. The first year after a TBI is the most difficult on a marriage, according to a new study.

Risk of divorce after TBI

A study published in the July/August edition of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation looked at the incidence of divorce among TBI patients. A sample of 1,423 TBI patients who were all married at the time they were injured was analyzed over a 10-year period. The study found that:

• Sixty-six percent of TBI patients maintained their marriages with no separation.
• Women with TBI were more likely to remain married.
• A patient’s history of substance abuse increased the chances of divorce.
• There was no relationship between severity of the injury and divorce.

The JHTR study contradicted some previous studies that had suggested TBI increases the rate of divorce. The new study was strengthened by its large sample size and long-term analysis of the study participants.

First-year trauma

According to the study, if divorce does occur after a TBI, it usually happens in the first year. Among the TBI patients who did get a divorce, 68% were divorced within five years of their injury. Thirty-nine percent of those patients were divorced within one year.

What the study can’t measure

Authors of the study admit that they had no information about the quality of the marriages prior to the injuries. This factor could have had a significant impact on the divorce rate among study participants. Sometimes, a traumatic event like a car accident can push people to reevaluate their life and consider divorce.