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Traumatic Brain Injury Statistics

Traumatic brain injury can seriously and permanently alter life for a victim and a victim's family. Every 16 seconds in the United States, a person suffers a traumatic brain injury. This equals approximately 1.5 to 2 million traumatic brain injuries each year. Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults. Even more alarming, traumatic brain injuries occur more frequently than do breast cancer cases, HIV/AIDS infections, multiple sclerosis cases, and spinal cord injuries combined.

People from all walks of life can suffer a traumatic brain injury; however, males, the elderly, and people 15 to 24 years old are especially susceptible to brain injury from falls, transportation accidents, and violence. Falls account for 28 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. The elderly are especially susceptible to brain injury from falls. Older people who live alone or in negligent nursing homes can fall, slip, or trip and sustain devastating brain and head injuries.

Transportation accidents account for half of all traumatic brain injury cases and are the leading causes of brain injury deaths and disabilities among people aged 15 to 24. Fast, negligent driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics can cause tragic motor-vehicle accidents and result in brain injury. Pedestrian and bicycle accidents also cause serious brain injuries.

People 15 to 24 experience most violence-related traumatic brain injuries. Violence-related traumatic brain injuries account for 20 percent of all brain injury cases. At least 10 percent of violence-related traumatic brain injuries are firearm accidents and assaults. Assault is a major cause of traumatic brain injury in the very young. Although 75 percent of these brain injuries are unintentional, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse are common.

Brain injuries due to violence, transportation accidents, and falls prove to be the most fatal. It is estimated that nearly 50,000 Americans die from these brain injuries each year. More than 300,000 people have injuries serious enough to require hospitalization. Of these victims, more than 80,000 people will have significant disabilities or problems with thinking, memory, emotion, and mobility.

The emotional and financial cost of brain injury is enormous. Traumatic brain injuries that require hospitalization cost the nation about $56.3 Billion each year (ongoing care and rehabilitation contributes to this cost). Although it is often difficult to manage, the financial burden is only a small part of the expense. Traumatic brain injury costs victims and their families in quality of life. For society, the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury are incalculable.

[Last revision: July 2009]

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