Some of the most common injuries people suffer are to the brain. But how many of these brain injuries occur each year? 

According to data collected by the CDC, there were approximately 223,050 traumatic brain injury (TBI)-related hospitalizations in 2018 and 60,611 TBI-related deaths in 2019. These estimates do not include the many TBI’s that are only treated in the emergency department, primary care, urgent care, or those that go untreated.

The statistics are sobering, and TBI continues to affect millions of Americans each year—including those who go undiagnosed and untreated.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

TBI occurs when an external trauma like a hard blow to the head causes damage to the brain. Traumatic injuries may be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Strokes, infections, and brain tumors are not considered traumatic brain injuries, but are instead referred to as acquired brain injuries (ABIs) and do fall under the larger category of brain injuries.

Mild TBI

A mild TBI is more commonly known as a concussion. A person with a concussion is usually awake after injury but can lose consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. A concussion will usually result in:

  • Attention impairments
  • Balance impairments
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Vision problems
  • Nausea

Ongoing studies have seen an increase in concussions in high school-age athletes. The current data suggests that about 3.8 million concussions occur each year in the U.S. from sports-related injuries. Many of these are left undiagnosed and can impact a player for many years after the trauma.

Moderate TBI

A moderate TBI results in lethargy. The injured person’s eyes may only open to stimulation. There is also the possibility of nausea.

A person with a moderate traumatic brain injury experiences changes in brain function that last longer than a few minutes. They may lose consciousness from 30 minutes to twenty-four hours.

Although some symptoms may be similar to a mild TBI, moderate TBI symptoms do not go away quickly and may even escalate. Patients with moderate head injury are likely to suffer from a number of residual symptoms.

Severe TBI

A severe TBI always involves a coma state or a significant period of unconsciousness. This coma state, which usually lasts more than twenty-four hours, entails complete unconsciousness (not response respond to sound, touch, or pain). Other states may include:

  • Vegetative: still unconscious but may be awake at times; aren’t aware of their surroundings
  • Minimally conscious: some awareness of themselves or their surroundings
  • Emerged from minimally conscious state: can communicate consistently and perform simple tasks
  • Post-traumatic confusional state/post-traumatic amnesia: confusion and problems forming new memories. Post traumatic amnesia can last for weeks – sometimes months or longer.

Brain injury rehabilitation is an important factor in a successful recovery for those with moderate to severe injuries.

The History of Reporting Brain Injuries

Since 1980, the National Center for Health Statistics has been gathering data around traumatic brain injury. Deaths associated with firearms, cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and falls were a prominent public health issue, and the experts wanted to understand the numbers behind the health crisis.

In 1996, Congress enacted the Traumatic Brain Injury Act. This legislation mandated that the CDC improve the following reporting and research standards:

  • Create a uniform reporting system for traumatic brain injuries across the organization
  • Conduct necessary research into the identification of effective strategies for preventing traumatic brain injury
  • Implement better public information and education programs for preventing traumatic brain injuries and for broadening public awareness of traumatic brain injuries
  • Provide grants and contracts to public or non-profit entities to plan, develop and operate projects that are designed to reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injury
  • Present a CDC report to Congress to describe the incidence and prevalence of traumatic brain injury

Because of this research, increased awareness of TBI and development of treatments, improvements have been seen: better outcomes for patients, fewer deaths, shorter average length of hospitalization, shorter average length of rehabilitation and fewer lifelong disabilities.

Since inception, QLI has been dedicated to the thought leadership and clinical expertise that improves outcomes and rehab experiences in the field of traumatic brain injuries.

How Many Brain Injuries Occur Each Year?

Every 9 seconds, someone in the United States sustains a brain injury. More than 3.6 million people sustain an ABI each year while at least 2.8 million people sustain a TBI. The number of people who sustain TBI’s and do not seek treatment is unknown.

Some of the leading causes of TBI’s include falls, being struck by or against someone or some thing, motor vehicle accidents, and assaults. In fact, falls are the leading cause of TBI’s and lead to nearly half of the TBI-related hospitalizations.

CDC Data also shows that people age 75 years and older had the highest numbers and rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and deaths. This age group accounts for about 32% of TBI-related hospitalizations and 28% of TBI-related deaths.

Get The Help You Need

With how many brain injuries occur every year in the United States alone, there has never been a higher need for creative, flexible, best-in-class care and rehabilitation for individuals and their families recovering after a catastrophic injury.

The QLI admissions team is here to make your experience as easy as possible. Experiencing a brain injury can be a frightening experience. We can help you find your path forward after brain injury. Contact us at 402-573-3748 to start the conversation.

Categories: Brain Injury