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Brain injuries more prevalent than previously thought

A new study by researchers from Mayo Clinic has found that the incidence of traumatic brain injury is likely greater than has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This study differs from previous similar studies in that it uses a new and refined system for classifying injuries caused by force to the head: the Mayo Traumatic Brain Injury Classification System.

“Even mild traumatic brain injuries can affect sensory-motor functions, thinking and awareness, and communication,” says study author Allen Brown, M.D., director of brain rehabilitation research at Mayo Clinic. “In assessing frequency, we have likely been missing a lot of cases. This is the first population-based analysis to determine prevalence along the whole spectrum of these injuries.”

Using the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a several decades-long compilation of medical records in Olmsted County, Minn., the team determined that TBIs occur in as many as 558 per 100,000 people, compared to the 341 per 100,000 estimated by the CDC. Researchers found that 60 percent of injuries fell outside the standard categorization used by the CDC, even though two-thirds of them were symptomatic.

Mayo researchers found the elderly and the young were found most at risk for “definite” and “possible” injury, respectively, and men were more at risk than women. The findings reinforce ongoing efforts by the CDC to create a brain injury classification that more broadly encompasses traumatic head injury.

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