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Brain Injury Facts

There are an Estimated 5.3 Million Americans - a little more than 2 percent of the U.S. population - who currently live with disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injury.

One Person in the U.S. Sustains a Traumatic Brain Injury Every 21 Seconds

  • Acquired brain injury (ABI) Definition:
    Injury to the brain which is not hereditary, congenital or degenerative that has occurred after birth. (Includes anoxia, aneurysms, infections to the brain and stroke.)
    • 1.5 Million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year1
    • Each year, 80,000 Americans experience the onset of long-term disability following TBI.
    • More than 50,000 people die every year as a result of TB1.1
    • The risk of TBI is highest among adolescents, young adults and those older than 75 2
    • After one brain injury, the risk for a second injury is three times greater; after the second injury, the risk for a third injury is eight times greater.3

Comparisohn of TBI to other diseases

The Cost of Brain Injury

The estimated cost of traumatic brain injury in the United States is $48.3 billion annually. Hospitalization accounts for $31.7 billion.  Fatal brain injuries cost the nation $16.6 billion annually.4

Percentage of TBI Causes5 1995-1996
 14 States
*Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, South Carolina, Minnesota, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, Alaska
and California (Sacramento County Only)


Vehicle Crashes are the leading cause of brain injury. Falls are the second leading cause, and the leading cause of brain injury in the elderly.

The Consequences of Brain Injury


Cognitive Consequences Can Include:

  • Short-term memory loss; long-term memory loss
  • Slowed ability to process information
  • Trouble concentrating or paying attention for periods of time
  • Difficulty keeping up with a conversation; other communication difficulties such as word finding problems
  • Spatial disorientation, organizational problems and impaired judgment
  • Unable to do more than one thing at a time
  • A lack of initiating activities, or once started, difficulty in completing tasks
    without reminders


Physical Consequences Can Include:

  • Seizures of all types
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Double vision or low vision, even blindness
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Speech impairments such as slow or slurred
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Fatigue, increased need for sleep
  • Balance problems

Emotional Consequences Can Include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Impulsive behavior
    More easily agitated
  • Egocentric behaviors; difficulty seeing how behaviors can affect others

1.Centers for Disease Control. “Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: A Report to Congress.” www: Centers for Disease Control, (January 6, 2001)
2. Analysis by the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, using data obtained from state health departments in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Utah.
3.Annegers JF, Garbow JD, Kurtland LT et al. The Incidence, Causes and Secular Trends of Head Trauma in Olstead County, Minnesota 1935- 1974. Neurology.1980; 30,912-919.
4. Lewin —ICF. The Cost of Disorders of the Brain Washington, DC The National Foundation for the Brain. 1992
5. Personal Communications with, Dr. David Thurman, CDC - National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. June 29. 1999

This fact sheet was developed by the Brain Injury Association of America and is used with permission.


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