5.5 million Americans are disabled due to a brain injury. Nearly 3 million people visited an ED for TBI-related injuries in 2013.

There were approximately 223,135 TBI-related hospitalizations in 2019* and 64,362 TBI-related deaths in 2020.

This represents more than 611 TBI-related hospitalizations and 176 TBI-related deaths per day.

These estimates do not include the many TBIs that are only treated in the emergency department, primary care, urgent care, or those that go untreated.

Source: TBI Data | Concussion | Traumatic Brain Injury | CDC Injury Center

What is a TBI?

Typically, a TBI is caused by a blow to the head. It may come from a fall, or an impact in a vehicle crash, or even something falling on to someone’s head. In some cases, the head may be swiftly twisted, causing a severe axonal injury to the brain.

The injury may cause temporary loss of consciousness, confusion, memory issues, nausea, vomiting, intense fatigue, difficulty speaking, loss of balance, blurred vision, tinnitus, sensitivity to light and sound, mood changes, anxiety and depression, sleep disruptions and worse. Many patients will recover well over a period of weeks to months. Others may suffer lifetime effects, some may become disabled and some may die from the injury.

My Experience (Brief)

In spite of multiple TBI/knock out blows that also broke other bones, my TBIs were not treated until decades after the injuries occurred.

When I had a skull fracture, I was seen by a family doctor who referred me to an outpatient radiology clinic to get an X-Ray head series – five days later. I had a 5″ long fracture of my skull and was sent home to lay in bed, throwing up for a couple of weeks, not recognizing people for part of that time, and not being able to walk or dress myself. No one ever mentioned “TBI” to me.

In other TBI cases, I had broken my bike helmet, got knocked out, and was treated for other broken bones. No one ever mentioned “TBI” to me.

I was diagnosed late in life with “post TBI” issues – while there were many symptoms, a specific speech disorder who’s only known cause is TBI or stroke was a key piece of evidence in the diagnosis.

Incidence of TBI is Quite High

The incidence of TBI is likely far greater than official CDC numbers, above, especially if others received as poor a treatment as I did!

Out of curiosity I looked up how brain injuries relate in context to other injuries, diseases or deaths that get much media attention.

  • An estimated 35 million suffer from migraine headaches. A true migraine is not just a bad headache; many people refer to common headaches as a migraine. 25% of those experience “aura” which may cause visual disturbances, temporary loss of vision, and blurry vision.
  • About 5.5 million people in the U.S. are living with a brain injury related disability.
  • Almost 3 million people will experience a TBI each year in the U.S. Of those, the CDC estimates 223,000 will be hospitalized and 64,000 will die. A published paper documented 2.8 million TBI-related ED visits in 2013, with 282,000 hospitalizations and 56,000 deaths.
  • Childhood TBI may affect brain development.
  • Celiac disease estimated to affect 3.2 million in the U.S.
  • Epilepsy 3.4 million
  • Chrohn’s Disease 1.6 million
  • Multiple Sclerosis 1 million
  • Cystic Fibrosis 30,000
  • There are about 26 lightning caused deaths each year
  • There are almost 4000 drowning deaths/year or 11 per day.
  • There were 1,260 bicycle related deaths in 2020 or about 3 1/2 every day.
  • There were 5,715 fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020 or about 15 1/2 every day.
  • From 2010 to 2020, there were an average of 31,000 flu deaths/year.
  • In 2020, dogs killed 46 people. 1/3 of victims were age 9 or younger and most were age 0-2 years old. (FYI for this reason it is recommended that families not have dogs, or be overly cautious, until children are age 5 or older.)
  • There are an estimated 1.5 to 1.6 million “transgender” persons in the U.S. (other sources have a lower estimate) using the broad definition that includes anyone who self-identifies as no gender, a different gender, or multiple genders. An estimated 19% (about 300,000) have had a medical procedure related to gender.
  • An estimated 43,250 women will die of breast cancer in 2022. As of 2022, 3.8 million living women have had breast cancer.
  • In 2020, 45,222 people died as the result of a gunshot.
  • An estimated 60-70% of those gun-related deaths were suicides.
  • In 2020, 46,000 people committed suicide. 1.2 million attempted suicides.
  • Persons under age 30 were 10x more likely to die of a gunshot than of Covid-19 in 2020.
  • Deaths by poisoning account for 97,034 in 2020.
  • Deaths by falls were 43,292 in 2020.
  • Deaths in vehicle crashes were 40,698 in 2020.

From the above, traumatic brain injuries are one of the largest sources of disability in the U.S. – but are largely invisible in the public’s eye. Similarly, poisoning kills more than any other category, above, but is seldom mentioned.

When I say here that I am a brain injured idiot, I am not entirely joking. Two doctors and one neuropsychologist have told me that I am a “miracle” (using that or similar words or phrases) to have survived so well. I am (seriously) one of the luckiest people in the world.

By EdwardM