According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries are a serious problem. In the United States, there were approximately 2.5 million TBI-related injuries in 2010 alone. Currently, about 5.3 million people in America are dealing with disabilities related to TBIs.
These injuries exist on a spectrum, and they may range from mild consciousness changes to life-altering disabilities. TBIs may also be fatal; in 2010, over 50,000 deaths were linked to such injuries.
Severe TBIs fall into one of two categories: closed or penetrating. A closed TBI results when the brain moves within the skull. Penetrating TBIs are caused when foreign objects enter the skull. Patients with non-fatal severe TBIs will often suffer a variety of physical and emotional issues, including the following:
- Trouble with memory
- Decreased motor function
- Impaired vision
- Personality changes
- Depression, anxiety or aggression
These problems may last only a short time, or they may remain for the rest of patients’ lives.
Understandably, severe TBIs may result in substantial emotional trauma for the affected person. The CDC also notes, however, that TBIs may produce extreme stress for patients’ friends and families. In addition to these emotional tolls, TBI often results in high financial losses. The CDC estimates that costs associated with TBIs are over $75 billion.
Common causes of TBIs include falls and motor vehicle accidents. Falls will generally produce more TBIs in young children (up to 4 years old) and the elderly (75 years and older). Nearly 32 percent of TBI-related deaths are the result of motor vehicle accidents, across all age groups.