What is a traumatic brain injury?
Any forceful contact to the head that disrupts the brain's natural functions is considered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. The brain also can be injured by other conditions, including infections or strokes. Those injuries are called acquired brain injuries, or ABIs.
Doctors classify TBIs as either mild, moderate or severe. Since most TBIs are mild, many people who sustain a TBI find their symptoms improve over time. In fewer but more serious cases of TBI, the effects of the damage can last a lifetime.
How many people have TBI?
Nearly 1.6 million Americans sustain a TBI each year. Most people who are treated at an emergency room are released, but approximately 290,000 are admitted annually to the hospital. Additionally, each year, more than 50,000 die as a result of the TBI, and some 125,000 are permanently disabled as a result of the injury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans are permanently disabled as a result of a TBI — that’s nearly 2 percent of the population.
What causes TBI?
The leading causes of TBI are:
- Falls (28%)
- Motor vehicle/traffic crashes (20%)
- Other events, like industrial accidents or sports-related injuries (19%)
- Assaults (11%)
Who's at risk?
- Males are approximately 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a TBI.
- The two age groups at highest risk for TBI are 0 to 4 year olds and 15 to 19 year olds.
- Certain military duties increase the risk of sustaining a TBI.
- African-Americans have the highest death rate from TBI.