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 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually.1 Of them:
- 52,000 die,
- 275,000 are hospitalized, and
- 1,365 million, nearly 80%, are treated and released from an emergency department.
- TBI is a contributing factor to a third (30.5%) of all injury-related deaths in the United States.1
- About 75% of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).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, 2002-2006 1
Deaths - 52,000
Hospitalizations - 275,000
Emergency Department Visits - 1,365,000
Receiving Other Medical Care or No Care - ???*
(* There is no extimate for the number of people with non-fatal TBI seen outside of an emergency department of 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.
- Almost half a million (473,947) emergency department visits for TBI are made annually by children aged 0 to 14 years.
- Adults aged 75 years and older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalization and death.
TBI by Sex1
- In every age group, TBI rates are higher for males than for females.
- Males aged 0 to 4 years have the highest rates of TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths combined.
TBI by External Cause1
- 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.
ESTIMATED AVERAGE PERCENTAGE OF ANNUAL TBI BY EXTERNAL CAUSE IN THE UNITED STATES, 2002-20061
Falls - 35.2%
Motor Vehicle-Traffic - 17.3%
Struck By/Against - 16.5%
Assault - 10%
Unknown/Other - 21%
Additional TBI Findings1
- There was an increase in TBI-related emergency department visits (14.4%) and hospitalizations (19.5%) from 2002 to 2006.
- There was a 62% increase in fall-related TBI seen in emergency departments among children aged 14 years and younger from 2002 to 2006.
- There was an increase in fall-related TBI among adults aged 65 and older; 46% increase in emergency department visits, 34% increase in hospitalizations, and 27% increase in TBI-related deaths from 2002 to 2006.
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CDC analyzed existing national data sets for its report, Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations and Deaths 2002–2006. 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.
- Faul M, Xu L, Wald MM, Coronado VG. Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations and Deaths 2002–2006. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2010.
- 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, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2003.
- Finkelstein E, Corso P, Miller T and Associates. The Incidence and Economic Burden of Injuries in the United States. New York (NY): Oxford University Press; 2006.