Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from mild (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to severe (i.e., a long period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury). A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with the person functioning independently.

If you think you or someone you know has a TBI, contact your health care provider.

Getting help soon after the injury by trained specialists may speed recovery. This information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or examination.


How May People Have TBI?

Of the 1.4 million people who have a TBI each year in the United States:

50,000 die; 235,000 are hospitalized; and 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department.

The number of people with a TBI who are not seen in an emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.

Causes of TBI

The leading causes of TBI are:

Falls (28%): Falls are the leading cause of TBI; rates are highest for children ages 0 to 4 years and adults ages 75 years and older.

Motor vehicle traffic crashes (20%): The rate of motor vehicle traffic-related TBls is highest among adolescents ages 15 to 19 years.

Struck by/against (19%): Struck by/against events, which include colliding with a moving or stationary object, are the third leading cause of TBI. Approximately 1 .6-3.8 million sports- and recreation-related TBls occur in the United States each year.

Assaults (11%): Firearm use is the leading cause of death related to TBI. Nine out of 10 people with a firearm-related TBI die.

Prevalence of TBI

Males are about 1.5 times as likely as females to suffer from a TBI.

The 2 age groups at highest risk of a TBI are 0- to 4-yearolds and 1 5- to 19-·year olds.

Certain military duties (e.g., paratrooper) increase the risk of sustaining a TBI.

African Americans have the highest death rate from TBI.

Symptoms of TBI

The signs and symptoms of TBI can be subtle. Symptoms may not appear until days or weeks following the injury or may even be missed because some people may look fine even though they may act or feel differently.

The following are some common signs and symptoms of a TBI:

Headache or neck pain that does not go away

Difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions

Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading

Getting lost or easily confused

Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation

Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)

Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping)

Lightheadedness, dizziness or loss of balance

Urge to vomit (nausea)

Sensitivity to lights, sounds or distractions

Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily

Loss of sense of smell or taste

Ringing in the ears.

Long Term Consequences of TBI

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that at least 3.1 7 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform daily activities because of a TBI. According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury.

The most frequent unmet needs were:

Improving memory and problem-solving

Managing stress and emotional upsets

Controlling anger

Improving job skills

A TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotion, behavior and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become common with age.