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Falls Often to Blame in Traumatic Brain Injury

About 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries
in the United States every year and tens of thousands are fatal, the CDC

The new report, based on data from 2002 to 2006, says traumatic brain
injuries, also known as TBIs, killed about 52,000 people annually in those
years and resulted in 275,000 hospitalizations.

About 1.4 million people, or 80%, were treated and released from an
emergency department each year.

According to the report, TBIs contribute to 30.5% of injury-related deaths
annually in the U.S.

Most are caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head severe enough to
disrupt normal brain function.

According to the report:

  • Falls are the leading cause of TBIs, resulting in 35.2% of the injuries.
    Rates are highest for children from birth up to age 4, and for adults 75 and

  • Children up to age 4 and older adolescents 15-19, along with adults 65 and
    older, are most likely to suffer a TBI.

  • Road traffic injury is the second leading cause (17.3%), and results in the
    highest percentage of TBI-related deaths, 31.8%. Rates are highest for adults
    20 to 24.

  • TBI rates are higher for males than females in all age groups.

Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Richard C. Hunt, MD, director of the Division for Injury Response at the CDC
in Atlanta, says in a news release that the findings can be used to guide
strategies to prevent traumatic brain injuries. "We consider TBI to be a major
public health problem. The fact that TBI is a contributing factor to nearly a
third (30.5%) of all injury-related deaths in the United States is a
significant finding," he says.

The report says people with TBIs may have short or long-term consequences
that affect their thinking, perception, language, or emotions but which may not
be immediately apparent.

CDC says it is working to translate science into educational and outreach
programs to help increase awareness and improve prevention of TBIs and also aid
in the recognition of such injuries.

It says its educational initiatives provide important information to health
care providers, patients, school professionals, sports coaches, parents,
teens , and youths on how to prevent and manage traumatic brain

Traumatic Brain Injuries: Concussions Top the List

The report says TBIs range from mild, characterized by a brief change in
mental status or consciousness, to severe, which result in an extended period
of unconsciousness or amnesia. The majority of TBIs are
concussions .

The report also says that, among children from birth to age 14, TBIs on
average annually cause:

  • 2,174 deaths

  • 35,136 hospitalizations

  • 473,947 emergency department visits

It also reports that:

  • Adults 75 and older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalization
    and death.

  • Boys aged 4 and younger have the highest rates of TBI-related emergency
    room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths combined.

  • Between 2002 and 2006, there was a 62% increase in fall-related TBIs seen
    in emergency departments among children 14 and younger.

  • Among adults 65 and older, TBI-related deaths increased 27% between 2002
    and 2006.

  • Assaults cause about 10% of traumatic brain injuries. They accounted for
    2.9% of TBIs in children 14 and younger, and 1% in adults 65 and older.


By Bill Hendrick
Reviewed by Laura Martin
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