Traumatic Brain Injury is Serious Public Health Issue: Every Year 1.7 Million Experience TBI Causing Death, Permanent Disability, Significant Injury

Each year, traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributes to a substantial number of deaths and permanent disability. At least 1.7 million TBIs occur either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries. A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The severity of a TBI may range from "mild" to "severe."


According to CDC research, approximately 3.5 million persons have a TBI in the United States. Of these individuals:

  • 2.1 million received care in emergency departments
  • 300,000 were hospitalized
  • 84,000 were seen in outpatient departments
  • 1.1 million received care from office-based physicians
  • 53,000 died


Previously referred to as a "Silent Epidemic," individuals with this injury may not have any visible scars, and symptoms may not show up or be noticed until hours or days later. Still, a TBI can cause short or long-term problems seriously affecting thinking, learning, memory, and/or emotions. A TBI can affect all aspects of an individual’s life, as well as that of their loved ones. This may include relationships with family and friends, as well as their ability to work or be employed, do household tasks, or drive a car.


The most common causes of TBI are from falls and car crashes. While there is no one-size-fits all solution, there are many ways to reduce the chances of a TBI, including:


  • Wearing a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle
  • Never driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Avoiding activities that can distract you while you drive, such as using a cell phone, texting, and eating
  • Wearing a helmet and making sure your children wear helmets while riding a bike


Helping prevent falls by:

  • Encouraging older adults to improve their balance and coordination by exercising
  • Using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent young children from falling


See the CDC Announcement


See also Medical Law Perspectives, May 2012 Report: Repeat Brain Trauma That Is More Than a Bump on the Head: Multiple Concussion Injury and Second Impact Syndrome