A traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when a person sustains a bump or jolt to the head or suffers a penetrating head injury that affects the brain's normal functioning. These injuries can affect anyone, including athletes who suffer from concussions, members of the military who serve in combat, and people who are injured in car accidents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common causes of TBI include:
- Falls. The agency says that 35.2 percent of TBIs suffered from 2000 through 2006 involved falls. Young children and older adults were most likely to suffer a TBI in this way.
- Motor vehicle accidents. Car accidents, motorcycle accidents and other vehicle crashes result in 17.3 percent of TBIs, the agency's figures show. Although the these crashes are the second most common cause of TBIs, they are the leading cause of deaths from brain injuries. Young people ages 20-24 are most at risk.
- Being struck by or against an object. The CDC reports this to be the cause of 16.5 percent of TBIs.
- Assaults. Ten percent of TBI patients suffered their injury during an assault. Domestic violence, gun injuries and other violence can all result in traumatic brain injuries.
- Other. A significant percentage of TBIs – 21 percent – come from unknown or other causes.
Each year, an estimated 1.7 million people suffer a TBI. Nearly 80 percent are treated and released from emergency rooms and emergency departments of hospitals. But in an estimated 275,000 cases, brain injury victims are hospitalized, and another 52,000 are killed.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Get the Stats on Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States”