Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health concern that affects millions of people worldwide. TBI occurs when an external force causes brain dysfunction, leading to a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. TBI can occur in a variety of settings, including sports, motor vehicle accidents, falls, and physical assaults. Alarmingly, the leading cause of traumatic brain injury related deaths in the United States is suicide. In this blog, we will explore the statistics and facts surrounding traumatic brain injury and its impact on individuals and society as a whole.
What Is A Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of injury that occurs when an external force causes damage to the brain. The damage can range from mild to severe and can result in a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. TBI can occur in a variety of ways, including from a blow or jolt to the head, a penetrating head injury, or a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head. The severity of the injury can vary depending on the force of the impact and the location of the injury in the brain.
Common Causes Of TBIs
There are many causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and they can occur in a variety of settings. Some of the most common causes of TBI include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports injuries
- Physical assaults
- Firearm-related injuries
- Explosive blasts
- Penetrating injuries
- Shaken baby syndrome
- Emotional trauma and PTSD
Symptoms Of a Traumatic Brain Injury
The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can vary depending on the severity of the injury, the location of the injury in the brain, and the individual. Some common symptoms of TBI include:
Physical Symptoms Of A TBI
- Loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Sleep disturbances
Cognitive Symptoms of a TBI
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slowed thinking
Emotional Symptoms of a TBI
- Mood swings
- Changes in personality
Sensory Symptoms of a TBI
- Ringing in the ears,
- Changes in taste or smell
- Decreased sensory perception
Speech and Language Symptoms of a TBI
- Difficulty speaking
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty understanding others
Motor Symptoms of a TBI
- Weakness or paralysis
- Muscle rigidity or spasms
- Loss of coordination
It’s important to note that not all symptoms of TBI may appear immediately after the injury and some symptoms may not be noticeable until days or even weeks after the injury. If you or someone you know has experienced a head injury, it’s important to seek medical attention to rule out any potential TBI.
The 4 Types of Brain Injuries and 3 Levels of Severity
Concussion: A concussion is a mild TBI that occurs when the brain is jolted or shaken inside the skull. Symptoms of a concussion can include headaches, dizziness, confusion, and memory problems.
Contusion: A contusion is a bruise on the brain that occurs when the brain strikes the inside of the skull. Symptoms of a contusion can include nausea, vomiting, and difficulty with speech or movement.
Penetration injury: A penetration injury occurs when an object, such as a bullet or a piece of skull, penetrates the brain. Symptoms can vary depending on the location of the injury and the extent of the damage.
Diffuse axonal injury: A diffuse axonal injury occurs when the brain is shaken or twisted inside the skull, causing damage to the nerve fibers. Symptoms can include coma, seizures, and cognitive deficits.
Traumatic brain injuries can also be classified by their severity, which is typically categorized into three levels:
Mild TBI: A mild TBI, also known as a concussion, is a brief loss of consciousness or a feeling of being dazed or confused that lasts for less than 30 minutes.
Moderate TBI: A moderate TBI involves a loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes, but less than 24 hours, or a period of post-traumatic amnesia lasting between 24 hours and seven days.
Severe TBI: A severe TBI involves a loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours or an extended period of post-traumatic amnesia. Severe TBI can result in permanent brain damage, coma, or even death.
How Many People Die From a TBI Per Year?
An estimated 2.87 million people in the United States suffer from TBI each year, with approximately 50,000 people dying from TBI-related injuries.
- There were over 69,000 TBI-related deaths in the United States in 2021.
- There were 64,362 TBI-related deaths in 2020.
- In 2020, about 176 Americans died from TBI-related injury each day.
- 61,000 deaths relating to a TBI occurred in the United States in 2019.
- Traumatic brain injuries have contributed to approximately one million deaths in the United States over the last 2 decades.
- During 2016–2018, a total of 181,227 TBI-related deaths occurred in the United States.
- 2000-2017, 960,000 TBI-related deaths occurred in the U.S.
- In 2017, approximately 61,000 TBI-related deaths occurred in the United States.
- The overall U.S. TBI-related death rate was 17.3 per 100,000 population per year.
- In 2013, TBI-related deaths accounted for 2.2% of all deaths in the United States.
- Those aged above 75 years comprised the largest proportion of TBI-related deaths (26.5%).
What Are The Leading Causes of TBI-Related Deaths?
- In the years 2016-2018, suicide was responsible for the majority of TBI-related deaths in 43 states, while unintentional falls or motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause in other states.
- Falls are the second leading cause of TBI-related deaths across all age groups.
- During 2016-2018, unintentional motor vehicle crashes and homicide were the third and fourth most common causes of TBI-related deaths in the US.
- The South had the highest TBI-related death rate among Census regions, while the Northeast had the lowest rate, followed by the West and Midwest.
- New Jersey had the lowest state TBI-related death rate, while Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana had the highest rates.
- Intentional causes, including suicide and homicide, accounted for more than two-fifths of TBI-related deaths.
- Assault/homicide, including abusive head trauma and firearm-related injuries, was the leading cause of TBI-related death among children aged 0-4 years.
TBI Hospitalization Facts & Statistics
- In 2019, the number of hospitalizations related to traumatic brain injury (TBI) exceeded 223,000.
- Nonfatal TBI-related hospitalizations in the United States reached 223,050 in 2018, with the highest rates seen in males and individuals aged 75 years and above.
- Unintentional falls and motor vehicle crashes were the two most frequent causes of nonfatal TBI-related hospitalizations in 2018, accounting for approximately 75% of such hospitalizations.
- Persons aged 15-24 years and 25-34 years had the highest rates of motor vehicle crashes resulting in nonfatal TBI-related hospitalizations among all age groups.
- The age group with the highest number of TBI-related emergency department visits in 2013 were individuals aged 15-24 years, accounting for 17.9% of such visits.
- The largest proportion of TBI-related hospitalizations in 2018 occurred among individuals aged 75 years and above, comprising 31.4% of such hospitalizations.
- Among those aged 0-24 years, the highest rates of TBI-related emergency department visits due to being struck by or against objects were observed. Sports and recreational activities likely contribute to these types of injuries, particularly among individuals aged 4-24 years.
How Children in Sports Are Impacted by Traumatic Brain Injuries
- In 2019, approximately 15% of high school students in the United States reported having one or more sports- or recreation-related concussions within the previous 12 months.
- From 2010 to 2016, there were an average of 283,000 emergency department visits per year in the United States for sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries among children, with around 45% of these injuries associated with contact sports.
- Contact sports-related traumatic brain injury emergency department visits showed an increase in rates for a decade before significantly declining from 2012 to 2018, primarily due to a 39% decrease in football-related sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries during 2013-2018.
Concussions In Youth Sports Statistics
- In the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 15.1% of students reported experiencing at least one sports- or activity-related concussion, while 6.0% reported having two or more concussions. The risk for concussion was further increased among students who played on more than one sports team.
- Male students had a significantly higher prevalence of concussions than female students, and students who played on sports teams were more likely to report concussions than those who did not.
- Compared to female students, male students were more likely to report one, two, and four or more concussions.
- The prevalence of reporting at least one concussion was 16.7%, 22.9%, and 30.3% among students who played on one, two, and three or more sports teams, respectively.
- In 2017, an estimated 2.5 million high school students in the United States reported having at least one sports- or activity-related concussion during the preceding year, and an estimated 1.0 million students reported having two or more concussions during the same time frame.
- A study of high school athletes found that 40% of athletes who had concussions reported that their coach was unaware of their symptoms.
- From 2001 to 2018, there were an estimated 3,888,020 emergency department visits in the United States for children under the age of 17 with sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries.
How Do TBIs Affect Youth Football Players?
- During practices or games, youth tackle football athletes aged 6 to 14 sustained 15 times as many head impacts as flag football athletes.
- Youth tackle football athletes sustained 23 times as many high-magnitude head impacts (i.e., hard head impacts) as flag football athletes.
- The median number of head impacts per athlete during the season was 378 for youth tackle football athletes and 8 for flag football athletes.
- In comparison to flag football athletes, youth tackle football athletes had an estimated 18 times as many head impacts per practice and 19 times as many head impacts per game.
- Youth tackle football athletes had an average rate of almost 7 head impacts per practice and 13 head impacts per game, resulting in 2 times as many head impacts in games than in practices. On the other hand, youth flag football athletes had an average rate of 0.4 head impacts per practice and 0.8 head impacts per game, resulting in 2 times as many head impacts in games than in practices.
- In games versus practices, youth tackle football athletes sustained 2 times as many high-magnitude head impacts.
- Running back and linebacker were the most common playing positions of those fatally injured.
- From 2005 to 2014, there were 28 identified traumatic brain and spinal cord injury deaths in high school and college football, resulting in an average of 2.8 deaths per year.
Brain Injuries In The NFL
The NFL has kept a record of concussions incurred in their preseason and regular season practices and games since 2015. Below is a record of that data.
- 1,809 concussions have occurred in the NFL since 2015.
- There have been 260 concussions during NFL preseason practices since 2015.
- There have been 277 concussions during NFL preseason games since 2015.
- There have been 77 concussions in NFL regular season practices since 2015.
- There have been 1,195 concussions in NFL regular season games since 2015.
- The regular NFL season has caused the most concussions.
- NFL players have suffered 337 concussions during preseason and regular season practices since 2015.
- 1,472 concussions during the NFL preseason and regular season games have occurred since 2015.
- Players are at higher risk of concussion during a game than a practice.
- 2017 was the year with the highest concussions in the NFL (281)
- 2020 was the year with the least concussions in the NFL (172), but there were no preseason games played due to COVID-19.
TBIs and Cyclists
- During 2009–2018, an estimated 596,972 ED visits for bicycle-related TBIs occurred in the United States
- During 2009-2018, the rate of ED visits for bicycle-related TBIs decreased by approximately one half among children and adolescents aged ≤17 years and by 5.5% among adults during this time
- Rates were highest among adult males and children and adolescents aged 10–14 years in 2009-2018
- Emergency department visits for bicycle-related TBIs among males of all ages was three times higher than that among females
- The rate per 100,000 population of ED visits for bicycle-related TBIs was higher for males than for females overall between 2009-2018.
Fall-Related TBI Statistics
- The national age-adjusted rate of fall-related TBI deaths increased by 17% from 2008 to 2017; rates increased significantly in 29 states and among nearly all groups, most notably persons living in noncore nonmetropolitan counties and those aged 75 years and older..
- One in 10 U.S. residents aged 18 years and up report falling each year
- Among all age groups, falls can cause serious injury and are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI)–related deaths
- During 2008–2017, the national age-adjusted rate of fall-related TBI deaths increased by 17%, representing 17,408 fall-related TBI deaths in 2017.
- The largest AAPCs in rates of fall-related TBI deaths occurred in Maine, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.
- During 2017, national rates of fall-related TBI death were highest among persons aged about 75 years, and males.
- Nearly 17,500 fall-related TBI deaths occurred during 2017.
TBIs And Ethnicity Facts & Statistics
- Males and American Indians/Alaska Natives experienced the highest rates of TBI-related death.
- From 2015 to 2017, 44% of TBI-related deaths were categorized as intentional injuries (i.e., homicides or suicides).
- Firearm injury was the underlying mechanism of injury in nearly all (97%) TBI-related suicides among all groups.
- TBI-related death rates were significantly higher among males of all races than among females
- From 2001 to 2006, the death rates of whites and blacks were similar, but since 2007, the rate of TBI-related deaths has been significantly higher among whites
- From 2000–2002 to 2003–2005, unintentional motor vehicle crashes accounted for the highest rate of TBI-related deaths for whites. Beginning in 2006–2008 and continuing through 2015–2017, suicide accounted for the highest rate of TBI-related deaths for this group
- Among blacks, homicide was responsible for the highest rate of TBI-related deaths from 2000–2002 to 2015–2017
- The highest rate of TBI-related deaths among American Indian/Alaska Natives was attributed to unintentional motor vehicle crashes
- Among Hispanics, unintentional motor vehicle crashes were the most common cause of TBI-related deaths from 2000–2002 to 2006–2008. During 2009–2011, the rates of TBI-related death from unintentional motor vehicle crashes and unintentional falls were similar in Hispanics; beginning in 2012–2014 and through 2015–2017, unintentional falls were the most common cause of TBI-related deaths among Hispanics
- TBI-related homicides disproportionately affected blacks compared with all other groups.
What Should You Do If You Or A Loved One Has Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury?
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), it is important to seek medical attention immediately. A TBI can be a life-threatening condition, and prompt medical treatment can greatly improve the chances of recovery. Here are some steps you can take:
Seek medical attention: If you or a loved one has suffered a blow to the head or has symptoms of a TBI, seek medical attention immediately. Go to the emergency room or call 911.
Follow the doctor’s instructions: After medical attention has been received, it is important to follow the doctor’s instructions carefully. This may include taking medication, resting, and avoiding certain activities.
Keep a record of symptoms and treatment: Keep track of any symptoms that occur after the injury and any treatments received. This information can be helpful for doctors and insurance companies.
Contact a personal injury attorney: If the injury was caused by the negligence of another party, it may be necessary to contact an attorney to protect your legal rights.
Seek support: Recovering from a TBI can be a long and difficult process. It is important to seek support from friends, family, and professionals. This may include counseling, support groups, or rehabilitation services.
Remember, a TBI can have serious consequences and should never be taken lightly. Seeking medical attention and following the doctor’s instructions can greatly improve the chances of a successful recovery.