Traumatic Brain Injury: a Leading Cause of Death and Disability in the US

Each year, it’s estimated that over 1.5 million people in our country sustain traumatic brain injury, or TBI. As a result of their injuries, 50,000 people die, 230,000 people are hospitalized and survive, and an estimated 80,000-90,000 people experience the onset of long-term disability.*

Even so, rates of hospitalization related to TBI have declined by approximately half in the last two decades. Why? According to Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: A Public Health Perspective, this can be partially attributed to successful injury prevention, but also to changes in hospital admission practices that now move patients with less severe TBI to outpatient settings.

The magnitude of this kind of injury in our country, according to the authors of this article, makes it necessary for us to have even more public health measures for prevention, and to improve the consequences for victims. The authors ask for reliable data on injury causes and risk factors, the identification of trends in TBI, and prevention strategies for populations at greatest risk. This kind of focus, say the authors, can help states and communities design and implement cost-effective programs for TBI patients and their families.

*Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, December 1999; Thurman, David J. MD, Alverson, Clinton MS, Dunn, Kathleen A. MD, Guerrero, Janet MS, Sniezek, Joseph E. MD; Aspen Publishers, Inc.