Article by Paul Stone of Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute of Brookhaven Hospital
Every year traumatic brain injury affects nearly 2 million people in the United States alone, and countless more brain injuries are experienced around the world. However we have only began to understand the mechanisms that occur when a brain injury is experienced, let alone the full extent of the long-term effects that can follow a brain injury.
March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, which shines a light on those who have experienced brain injuries and those who are diligently working to better prevent and treat TBI.
Brain injuries such as concussions have received more attention than ever thanks to a heightened focus put on the safety of professional football players’ brains, but it is important to remember the majority of brain injuries don’t occur on the field. Falls, car accidents, and bicycle accidents are the leading causes of brain injuries for most age-groups and many of these incidents could have been prevented with proper safety precautions such as wearing seatbelts in cars and helmets when riding bicycles.
To kick off the month, today I thought I would share some important statistics from BrainTrauma.org which show how widespread TBI is and how the long-term effects are impacting the daily lives of a significant number of Americans.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability in children and adults from ages 1 to 44.
- Brain injuries are most often caused by motor vehicle crashes, sports injuries, or simple falls on the playground, at work or in the home.
- Every year, approximately 52,000 deaths occur from traumatic brain injury.
- An estimated 1.5 million head injuries occur every year in the United States emergency rooms.
- An estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related TBIs occur each year.
- At least 5.3 million Americans, 2 percent of the U.S. population, currently live with disabilities resulting from TBI.
- Moderate & severe head injury (respectively) is associated with a 2.3 and 4.5 times increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Males are about twice as likely as females to experience a TBI.
- Exposures to blasts are a leading cause of TBI among active duty military personnel in war zones.
- Veterans’ advocates believe that between 10 and 20 percent of Iraq veterans, or 150,000 and 300,000 service members have some level of TBI.
- 30 percent of soldiers admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center have been diagnosed as having had a TBI.
- The number of people with TBI who are not seen in an emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.