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Statistics on Brain Injuries

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Statistics on Brain Injuries


Traumatic brain injury is a major health concern in America.  Approximately 50,000 Americans die each year after suffering a traumatic brain injury.  Those that survive suffer for the rest of their lives with neuropsychological impairments affecting their social life and working ability. The National Center for Health Statistics was used to gather data on traumatic brain injuries between 1989 and 1998. During this time, approximately 53,288 people died each year of an illness associated with having a traumatic brain injury.

The direct and indirect costs to the US in 1995 from traumatic brain injury were $56 billion. The CDC recently reported a reduction in traumatic brain injury from 1979 to 1992 of 22 percent. Even now, approximately 50,000 deaths occur in the US because of a traumatic brain injury, which represents more than 33 percent of all deaths due to injury. The death rates declined by 11.4 percent over the time period.

Traumatic Brain Injury Causes By Age

The major causes of traumatic brain injury include:

  • firearms (40 percent)
  • motor vehicle accidents (34 percent)
  • falls (10 percent)

Among young people aged 0-19 years, motor vehicle accidents were the most common cause of traumatic brain injury. Among those aged 20-74, firearms were the leading cause of death. Among all firearm-related deaths, 68 percent were suicides, 27 percent were homicides, and 5 percent were unknown or unintentional. Due to traumatic brain injury, firearm deaths were high among blacks; 70 percent were homicides, and most were male. Among whites, firearms were the leading cause of death, but 78 percent were homicides. 75 years of age or older, falls were the leading cause of traumatic brain injury deaths. Motor vehicle accidents declined by 22 percent, and firearm-related deaths declined by 14 percent.

Because of the aging population, fall-related deaths increased by 25 percent. Another study looked at the rate of traumatic brain injuries, including deaths, among children aged 0-14. They discovered that around 475,000 traumatic brain injuries occurred in the above age group per year. Children between the ages of 0-4 had the highest rate. 

Check out this YouTube video that gives a great overview regarding traumatic brain injuries:

TBI Stats by Ethnicity

Being male increases the risk of traumatic brain injury by 3 times. American Indian and Alaskan Natives had the highest rate of traumatic brain injuries at 27 deaths per 100,000 population, much higher in males. Among American Indians and Alaskan Natives, traumatic brain injuries were caused by suicide 63 percent of the time.  Blacks had 25 deaths per 100,000 population, four times higher in males.  Blacks had the highest rates by far compared to whites when it came to motor vehicle accidents. Whites had a rate of traumatic injury death of 20 deaths per 100,000 population. 

TBI Survival Rate

Among those who survived and had a traumatic brain injury, the ranking was still firearms, motor vehicle accidents, and falls in that order. During 1989-1998, the firearm victim rate declined by 14 percent, the motor vehicle victim rate dropped by 22 percent.  Fall-related traumatic brain injuries increased. Most people died from firearms between the age of 20-24 years of age.  Most were males at 85 percent.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 3.15.21]