Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers traumatic brain injury as a serious public health problem that is affecting around 1.7 million people every year as a result of either an isolated injury or along with other injuries. These injuries may have resulted from car accidents, recreational or contact sports, and slip and falls. CDC defines traumatic brain injury (TBI) as “caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. CDC cautions that NOT all blows or jolts to the head result to TBI. Some TBIs result in death or permanent disability. A mild TBI is describe as a brief change in mental status or consciousness while a TBI that is categorized as severe, is defined as an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. The majority of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI. CDC has compiled data to emphasize the seriousness of traumatic brain injury. Here are some of them:
- TBI is a contributing factor to a third (30.5%) of all injury-related deaths in the United States.
- About 75% of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI.
- 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.
- 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.
University of Utah Health Care cited the following statistics from National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents ages 14 and younger get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
- Although death from a sports injury is rare, the leading cause of death from a sports-related injury is a brain injury.
- Sports and recreational activities contribute to approximately 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents.
- The majority of head injuries sustained in sports or recreational activities occur during bicycling, skateboarding, or skating incidents.
- More than 775,000 children and adolescents ages 14 and younger are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.
On the other hand, Utah Department of Health reported that:
- The leading causes of TBI hospitalizations and deaths in Utah in 2009 were: falls (33.6%), motor vehicle traffic crashes (18.3%) and suicide and suicide attempts (11.5%).
- Among Utah’s small areas, other Southwest District, Glendale, South Salt Lake, Murray, TriCounty HD, Taylorsville, Kearns, Juab/Millard/Sanpete Counties, Sandy Center, and West Valley East had significantly higher TBI rates compared to the state rate.
- An estimated 31.6% of Utahns who were hospitalized or died of a TBI in 2009 had alcohol, drugs or medications in their bodies at the time of their injury. The presence of these substances varied by age.
Clearly these numbers indicate more efforts need to be made to bring more awareness to this problem. As always, safety measures that are instituted by government agencies and when followed correctly, can greatly reduce the number of TBI patients. To learn more, read our “Brain Injuries” article.
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