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Latest Brain Injury Statistics

If we need any more proof regarding the silent epidemic of brain injury, the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) contains the most recent statistics on traumatic brain injury released by the Centers for Disease Control.

As expected, Brain Injury continues to be a significant cause of hospitalization in this country with over 74,000 hospitalizations a year caused by brain trauma and head injury. Noteworthy is that the statistics compiled by CDC do not include emergency room visits with no hospital admission.  You can just imagine the extent of the problem if these statistics were included as well as those with mild injury that never even are seen in the emergency room.

The CDC further estimates that 1.4 million persons sustain a traumatic brain injury each year resulting in 80,000 to 90,000 individuals experiencing the onset of long term disability.

Out of the 74,000 plus persons hospitalized the leading causes of head and brain injury were unintentional falls, motor vehicle traffic incidents, and assaults.

In terms of age group, persons aged 75 years had the highest TBI-related hospitalization rate (264.4 per 100,000 population), at least twice the rate for any other age group; persons aged 15-24 years had the next-highest rate (103.3). Persons aged 75 years also had the highest TBI-related hospitalization rate associated with unintentional falls (203.9 per 100,000 population), at least three times the rate for any other age group.

The rates of TBI-related hospitalization associated with motor vehicle accidents were highest among persons aged 15-24 years, 25-34 years, and 75 years; for each sex, the rate for persons aged 15-24 years was approximately twice the rate for any other age group.

Overall and in most states, the rate of TBI-related hospitalizations for males was approximately twice that for females. Among males, rates of TBI-related hospitalization associated with assault were highest in persons aged 15-24 years, 25-34 years, and 35-64 years; rates for males in each of these age groups were at least six times as high as those for females. Among females, rates of TBI-related hospitalization associated with assault were highest among those aged 0-4 years; females in this age group had approximately twice the rate as females in any other age group.

As troubling as the statistics are concerning the incidence of brain trauma, the statistics on the failure of the health care system to provide follow up care following discharge are even more alarming to me. 

For all injury categories combined, 66% of patients were discharged without subsequent health-care assistance, 17% were discharged home with health services (e.g., outpatient rehabilitation) or to residential and rehabilitation facilities, 3% percent were discharged to an acute care hospital, and 1% left against medical advice. Approximately 6% of patients had no definitive coded discharge disposition, and 6% of patients died while hospitalized.

The percentage of patients discharged without health-care assistance decreased with age, from 91% for persons aged 0-4 years to 32% for those aged 75 years. In contrast, the percentage of patients discharged to a residential facility increased with age, from 1% for persons aged 0-4 years to 31% for those aged 75 years, as did the percentage of those who died in the hospital (from 3% for persons aged 0-4 years to 13% for those aged 75 years).

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