Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can result in significant and diverse forms of disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBI most commonly occurs because of a fall or motor vehicle accident. 

Learn more the prevalence and impact of TBI and know when to seek medical help for this type of injury. 

Why does TBI occur? 

Impact to the head can injure the brain, which can interfere with normal nervous system function. The strength of the blow or bump influences the severity of the injury. A TBI may be a mild concussion or may result in severe memory loss, paralysis or an extended period of unconsciousness. 

The CDC notes that falls cause 47% of serious TBIs, but this percentage rises to 54% among children ages 14 and younger and to 79% among those ages 65 and older. For individuals ages 15 to 44, TBI most often resulted from a motor vehicle accident. TBI is two times more common among men than among women. 

What are the symptoms of TBI? 

Some people do not realize they have a brain injury because the effects vary dramatically and can take weeks or months to arise. People who have a TBI may experience: 

  • Emotional symptoms such as depression, aggression, anxiety and personal changes 
  • Sensory changes, such as damage to hearing or vision 
  • Limited or impaired mobility 
  • Difficulty with cognitive functions such as memory and critical thinking 

How common is TBI? 

TBI accounts for more than 2.8 million United States emergency room visits and 50,000 fatalities in an average year. CDC data indicates that 30% of deaths from injury result from a TBI, representing more than 150 U.S. residents each day. TBI hospitalizations and deaths are most common among adults ages 75 and older. 

If you or a loved one experiences a head impact in a motor vehicle accident or fall, seek immediate medical attention. Even if you feel OK, treatment can sometimes prevent the development of serious TBI complications.