Getting TBI on the agenda….

ABC news co-anchor Bob Woodruff has done an excellent job of getting TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) onto the public’s agenda and promoting conversation about this injury. First I would like to congratulate him on his recovery thus far. it is a long road, and extremely frustrating at times. Listening to his story made me remember the frustration and doubts of my recovery – seeing something that I knew what it was, but just not able to place its names with the object, or even the person. I know for me, trying to remember the word I want to use at times is still difficult, and yes, still frustrating.
However, I am a bit concerned that people watching the special will come to equate TBI with war. While it is prevalent among soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is a common injuries that happens to civilians, and it is on the rise. Furthermore, it does not take a lot to damage the brain. While car accidents can inflict massive damage (as I know – all the lobes of my brain and my brain stem sustained damage), falling can inflict a minor TBI. This is an issue that should concern and be understood by far more people than only those who know someone who has gone through it.

TBI Fact Sheet:

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.

How many people have TBI?

TBIs contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability annually.

Of the 1.4 million who sustain a TBI each year in the United States:

  • 50,000 die;
  • 235,000 are hospitalized; and
  • 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department.1

Among children ages 0 to 14 years, TBI results in an estimated:

  • 2,685 deaths;
  • 37,000 hospitalizations; and
  • 435,000 emergency department visits annually.1

The number of people with TBI who are not seen in an emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.

For more information about TBI in the United States, including the groups at highest risk, CDC’s surveillance activities, and the numbers of TBI cases in each state, see Overview.

What causes TBI?

The leading causes of TBI are:

  • Falls (28%);
  • Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (20%);
  • Struck by/against events (19%); and
  • Assaults (11%).1

For more information on the leading causes of TBI, see Causes.

What are the signs and symptoms of TBI?

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 may look fine even though they may act or feel differently.

For a list of common signs and symptoms of TBI, see Signs and Symptoms.

What are the long-term outcomes of TBI?

CDC estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans, approximately 2% of the U.S. population, currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI.2

TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, and/or emotions. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.3

To learn more about the potential outcomes of TBI, see Outcomes.

What are the costs of TBI?

Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 2000.4


  1. Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Thomas KE. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2004.
  2. Thurman D, Alverson C, Dunn K, Guerrero J, Sniezek J. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: a public health perspective. Journal of Head Trauma and Rehabilitation 1999;14(6):602–15.
  3. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Traumatic brain injury: hope through research. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health; 2002 Feb. NIH Publication No.: 02–158.
  4. 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.

For more information, you can go to my links page to find TBI sites, or directly to the sites:
The Brain Injury Information Network (Information on TBI)
TBI Home page (a place to chat with others impacted by a TBI)
Brain Injury Chat (another chat site)
Brain Injury Support (links to online support groups)
Brain Injury Recovery Aides (Tips on how to recover from a TBI)

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