The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) marked Brain Injury Awareness Month this March. The purpose of Brain Injury Awareness Month is to promote early and equal access to care for all individuals suffering from a brain injury and promote brain injury awareness across the United States. It is important to remember that a brain injury can occur anytime, anywhere, and can happen to anyone.
The BIAA defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a “blow, jolt or bump to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” TBIs frequently require expert trauma care, specialized rehabilitation and lifelong disease management.
Statistics and Facts about Brain Injuries
According to the BIAA, approximately 1.7 million Americans sustain a brain injury each year. In fact, TBI is the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults, and it is the fourth leading cause of death overall. Indeed, in Texas alone, more than 144,000 Texans sustain a TBI each year. In addition, excluding veterans and military service members, more than 5,700 Texans are permanently disabled every year from a TBI, and approximately 440,000 Texans (2% of the state population) live with a disability caused by a TBI. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) estimates that TBI rates are higher for males than females in every single age group, and children aged 0 to 4, young adults aged 15 to 19, and adults aged 65 years and older sustain more TBIs than other age groups.
Unfortunately, per the Texas Brain Injury Alliance, less than 1 in 20 people with a TBI will receive the rehabilitation they need. At the same time, high incidences of TBIs can be costly for individuals, their families, and the nation as a whole. Specifically, direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $76.5 billion in the United States in 2000.
While falls are the leading cause of a TBI for individuals 65 and older, transportation-related injuries are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among those individuals younger than 64. Notably, more than 50% of all motor vehicle accidents resulting in traumatic brain injuries involve alcohol. It is also worth noting here that these numbers do not take into account the incidence of certain types of brain injuries, such as stroke, infectious disease, aneurysms, seizures, and toxic exposure.
Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries for High Risk Groups
Each year, one out of three adults ages 65 and over falls. These falls can lead to moderate to severe head trauma. To reduce the chance of falling and suffering a TBI, the CDC recommends that older adults:
• Exercise regularly;
• Ask their doctors to review all of their medicine (both prescription and over-the- counter) to identify medicine that may cause drowsiness and/or dizziness;
• Have their eyes checked at least once a year; and
• Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding railings, and increasing light.
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