Traumatic Brain Injuries: Did You Know?

Andrew D. Gowdown October 1, 2018

Each year, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability across the country. Everyone is at risk for a TBI, especially children and older adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define a traumatic brain injury as a “disruption in normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury.” Explosive blasts can cause a TBI, particularly among those who serve in the U.S. military. 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 memory loss after the injury).

According to the CDC, an estimated 2.8 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury annually in the United States, resulting in:

  • 2.5 million emergency department visits
  • 282,000 hospitalizations
  • 56,000 deaths

TBI is a major cause of death in the U.S., contributing to approximately 30% of all injury related deaths. Every day, 153 people in the United States die from TBI.

Nationwide, falls and motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of TBI related injuries and deaths.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reports that, in South Carolina, TBI annually leads to:

  • 10,100 emergency department visits
  • 4,300 hospitalizations
  • 1,440 deaths

People between the ages of 20 to 34 die from TBI more than any other age group. The leading causes of death from TBI in South Carolina are motor vehicle crashes (33%).

The leading causes of non-fatal TBI in South Carolina are falls (35%), motor vehicle crashes (22%), struck by/against events (11%), and assaults (10%).

Here are some other interesting facts about traumatic brain injuries:

  • A concussion is a type of TBI.
  • Males are almost twice as likely as females to sustain a TBI.
  • Estimates peg the number of sports related traumatic brain injuries as high as 3.8 million per year.
  • The area most often injured in a TBI are the frontal lobes of the brain, which control thinking and emotional regulation.
  • A blow to one part of the brain can cause damage throughout.

There are helpful resources available for traumatic brain injury survivors nationally (Brain Injury Association of North America) and in South Carolina (Brain Injury Association of SC and Trident Head Injury Support Group). Please keep this information in mind and show your support for TBI survivors. Your compassion and understanding makes a difference.

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