Statistics on Brain Injury

According to the Center for Disease Control, brain injuries are among the most likely to cause death or permanent disability. In the United States, a million people are treated and released from emergency rooms for TBI each year. Another 230,000 are hospitalized and later released, and 50,000 people die.

The Brain Injury Association defines TBI and ABI as follows:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI): An insult to the brain, not of degenerative or congenital nature, caused by an external force that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness, which results in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning. It can also result in the disturbance of behavioral or emotional functioning.

Acquired brain injury (ABI): Injury to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, or degenerative.


  • Every 15 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a brain injury.
  • Every year, 80,000 Americans experience the onset of long-term disability after a brain injury.
  • Over 5 million Americansóroughly 2% of the populationólive with disabilities stemming from a brain injury.


  • The highest rates of injury are found in 15 to 24 year olds.
  • Persons younger than five or older than 75 are also at high risk.
  • For people 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of TBI.


  • Several studies have shown that males are about twice as likely as females to sustain brain injuries.



  • Major causes of TBI are violence, motor vehicle crashes, and, among older Americans, falls.
  • In 1990, firearms surpassed vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death associated with TBI. Two-thirds of those firearm-related cases are classified as suicidal in intent.
  • 91% of firearm-related TBIs result in death, as do 11% of fall-related TBIs.

Kinds of Impairments

  • Cognitive: concentration, memory, judgment, and mood.
  • Movement: strength, coordination, and balance.
  • Sensation: tactile sensation and special senses such as vision.
  • TBI sometimes results in seizure disorders or persisting unconsciousness.

Hospital Stays

  • TBI-related hospitalizations declined 50% between 1980 and 1995, suggesting that an increasing proportion of persons with mild TBI receive only emergency room treatment.

Life Expectancy

  • From 1979 to 1992, the TBI-related death rate in the U.S. declined by 22%.

Estimated Annual Costs

The cost of traumatic brain injury in the United States is estimated at $48.3 billion annually. Of that figure, $31.7 billion is attributed to hospitalization and $16.6 billion to fatal brain injuries.


Estimated Lifetime Costs

Estimated Monetary Cost of Brain Injuries Occurring in 1985 (Lifetime)

Direct annual expenditures

$4.5 billion

Indirect annual costs $33.3 billion

$33.3 billion

Total costs

$37.8 billion

Pediatric Brain Injury

  • Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults in the U.S.
  • Brain injuries account for about one-third of all pediatric injury cases in the U.S.
  • Every year, more than a million children sustain brain injuries, ranging from mild to severe. More than 30,000 of them will have permanent disabilities


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