Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: A Public Health Perspective

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Abstract

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability among persons in the United States. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans sustain a TBI. As a result of these injuries, 50,000 people die, 230,000 people are hospitalized and survive, and an estimated 80,000–90,000 people experience the onset of long-term disability. Rates of TBI-related hospitalization have declined nearly 50% since 1980, a phenomenon that may be attributed, in part, to successes in injury prevention and also to changes in hospital admission practices that shift the care of persons with less severe TBI from inpatient to outpatient settings. The magnitude of TBI in the United States requires public health measures to prevent these injuries and to improve their consequences. State surveillance systems can provide reliable data on injury causes and risk factors, identify trends in TBI incidence, enable the development of cause-specific prevention strategies focused on populations at greatest risk, and monitor the effectiveness of such programs. State follow-up registries, built on surveillance systems, can provide more information regarding the frequency and nature of disabilities associated with TBI. This information can help states and communities to design, implement, and evaluate cost-effective programs for people living with TBI and for their families, addressing acute care, rehabilitation, and vocational, school, and community support.

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