Using national data from 1995-2006, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a federal research agency, estimates that 1.4 million people sustain a TBI in the United States each year:
- 1.1 million people are treated and released from hospital emergency departments
- 235,000 people are hospitalized and survive
- 50,000 people die
The leading causes of TBIs are:
- Falls (28%);
- Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (20%);
- Struck by/against events (19%); and
- Assaults (11%).
The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be subtle. Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury or may even be missed as people who look fine even though they may act or feel differently. The following are some common signs and symptoms of a TBI:
- Headaches or neck pain that do not go away;
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions;
- Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading;
- Getting lost or easily confused;
- Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation;
- Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason);
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping);
- Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance;
- Urge to vomit (nausea);
- Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions; and
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily.
The severity of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may range from “mild” (a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury). An estimated 5.3 million Americans are living today with a TBI-related disability and require help performing daily activities. TBIs can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions.
About 75% of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI. Repeated mild TBI occurring over an extended period of time (i.e., months, years) can result in cumulative neurological and cognitive deficits. Repeated mild TBI occurring within a short period of time (i.e., hours, days, or weeks) can be catastrophic or fatal.
The costs to TBI victims are staggering. There is no way to fully describe the human costs of traumatic brain injury and the burdens borne by those who are injured and their families. Only a few studies of the monetary costs of these injuries are available. According to one study conducted in 2006, direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity from TBIs totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States.