Each year, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability. A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” to “severe.”
Data are critical to understanding the impact of this important public health problem. This information can help inform TBI prevention strategies, identify research and education priorities, and support the need for services among those living with a TBI.
TBI in the United States
- An estimated 2.8 million people sustain a TBI annually.1 Of them:
- 50,000 die,
- 282,000 are hospitalized, and
- 2.5 million, nearly 90%, are treated and released from an emergency department.
- TBI is a contributing factor to a third (30%) of all injury-related deaths in the United States.1
- Every day, 153 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.1
- Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions.2
- Direct medical costs and indirect costs of TBI, such as lost productivity, totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 2000.3
Estimated Average Annual Numbers of TBI in the United States, 2001-20101
Deaths - 50,000
Hospitalizations - 282,000
Emergency Department Visits - 2,500,000
Receiving Other Medical Care or No Care - ???*
(* There is no estimate for the number of people with non-fatal TBI seen outside of an emergency department of a hospital or who receive no care at all.)
TBI by Age1
- Children aged 0 to 4 years, older adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, and adults aged 65 years and older are most likely to sustain a TBI.
- In 2012, an estimated 329,290 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in U.S. EDs for sports and recreation-related diagnosis of concussion or TBI.3
- Adults aged 75 years and older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalization and death.
Among TBI-related deaths in 2013:1
- Rates were highest for persons 75 years of age and older.
- The leading cause of TBI-related death varied by age:
- Falls were the leading cause of death for persons 65 years of age or older.
- Intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death for persons 25-64 years of age.
- Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for persons 5-24 years of age.
- Assaults were the leading cause of death for children ages 0-4 years.
Among non-fatal TBI-related injuries in 2013:1
- Hospitalization rates were highest among persons 75 years of age and older.
- Rates of ED visits were highest for persons 75 years of age and older and children 0-4 years of age.
- Falls were the leading cause of TBI-related ED visits for all but one age group.
- The leading cause of TBI-related hospitalizations varied by age:
- Falls were the leading cause among children 0-14 years of age and adults 45 years of age and older.
- Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of hospitalizations for adolescents and persons 15-44 years of age.
- Falls are the leading cause of TBI. Rates are highest for children aged 0 to 4 years and for adults aged 75 years and older.
- Falls result in the greatest number of TBI-related emergency department visits (523,043) and hospitalizations (62,334).
- Motor vehicle–traffic injury is the leading cause of TBI-related death. Rates are highest for adults aged 20 to 24 years.
- Over the span of six years (2007–2013), while rates of TBI-related ED visits increased by 47%, hospitalization rates decreased by 2.5% and death rates decreased by 5%.
TBI by External Cause1
Estimated Average Percentage of Annual TBI by External Cause in the United States1
Falls - 47%
Struck By/Against - 15%
Motor Vehicle-Traffic - 14%
Assault - 9%
Unknown/Other - 15%
Additional TBI Findings1
CDC analyzed existing national data sets for its report, Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations and Deaths 2001-2010. CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control funds 30 states to conduct TBI surveillance through the CORE State Injury Program. TBI-related death and hospitalization data submitted by participating CORE states are published in CDC’s State Injury Indicators Report.
- Taylor CA, Bell JM, Breiding MJ, Xu L. Traumatic Brain Injury–Related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths — United States, 2007 and 2013. MMWR Surveill Summ 2017;66(No. SS-9):1–16. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6609a1
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Report to Congress on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States: steps to prevent a serious public health problem. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003.
- Coronado VG, Haileyesus T, Cheng TA, Bell JM, Haarbauer-Krupa J, Lionbarger MR, Flores-Herrera J, McGuire LC, Gilchrist J. Trends in sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries treated in US emergency departments: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) 2001-2012. J Head Trauma Rehabil 2015; 30 (3): 185–197.
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov.