Review Reveals Only 2 Treatment Trials in This Large Patient Population
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major public health problem, especially among male adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 24, and among elderly people of both sexes 75 years and older. Children aged 5 and younger are also at high risk for TBI.
TBI costs the country more than $48 billion a year, and between 2.5 and 6.5 million Americans alive today have had a TBI. Survivors of TBI are often left with significant cognitive, behavioral, and communicative disabilities, and some patients develop long-term medical complications, such as epilepsy.
Other statistics dramatically tell the story of head injury in the United States. Each year:
- approximately 270,000 people experience a moderate or severe TBI,
- approximately 70,000 people die from head injury,
- approximately 1 million head-injured people are treated in hospital emergency rooms,
- approximately 60,000 new cases of epilepsy occur as a result of head trauma,
- approximately 230,000 people are hospitalized for TBI and survive, and
- approximately 80,000 of these survivors live with significant disabilities as a result of the injury.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
TBI, also called acquired brain injury or simply head injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. The damage can be focal - confined to one area of the brain - or diffuse - involving more than one area of the brain. TBI can result from a closed head injury* or a penetrating head injury. A closed injury occurs when the head suddenly and violently hits an object but the object does not break through the skull. A penetrating injury occurs when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.
*National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement, October 26-28, 1998. Rehabilitation of Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury. Bethesda, MD, September 1999.