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March: Brain Injury Awareness Month

At least 5.3 million Americans currently live with disabilities related to traumatic brain injury (TBI), and approximately 1.4 million people in the United States sustain a TBI each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, the CDC has distributed a list of facts and tips to help raise awareness and improve prevention measures.


  • A TBI is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.
  • Each year in the United States, an estimated 1.4 million people sustain a TBI. Of those individuals, approximately:

    „o„50,000 die;„

    „o„235,000 are hospitalized; and„

    „o„1.1 million are treated and released from emergency departments.„

  • Falls are the leading cause of TBI, followed by motor vehicle-traffic crashes.„
  • The two age groups at highest risk for TBI are 0 to 4 year olds and 15 to 19 year olds.„
  • TBI rates are higher for males in almost every age group.
  • TBI-related hospitalizations are most often due to motor vehicle-traffic crashes.
  • An estimated 300,000 sports- and recreation-related brain injuries of mild to moderate severity occur in the United States each year.
  • At least 5.3 million Americans - 2% of the U.S. population - currently live with disabilities resulting from TBI.
  • Direct and indirect costs of TBI totaled an estimated $56.3 billion in the U.S. in 1995.„

Prevention Tips

  • Wear a seatbelt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.„
  • Always buckle your child into a child safety seat, booster seat or seatbelt (according to the child's height, weight and age) in the car. Children should start using a booster seat when they grow out of their child safety seats (usually when they weigh about 40 lbs.). They should continue to ride in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit properly, typically when they are 4'9" tall.„
  • Ensure all children ages 12 years or younger ride in the back seat, the safest part of a vehicle in the event of a crash.„
  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.„

  • Wear a helmet and ensure that your children wear helmets while:„

    „o„riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter or all-terrain vehicle;„

    „o„playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey or boxing;„

    „o„using in-line skates or riding a skateboard;„

    „o„batting and running bases in baseball or softball;„

    „o„riding a horse; or„

    „o„skiing or snowboarding.„

  • Make living areas safer for seniors by:„

    „o„removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs and clutter in walkways;„

    „o„using non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors;„

    „o„having grab bars put in next to the toilet and in the tub or shower;„

    „o„having handrails put in on both sides of stairways; and„

    „o„improving lighting throughout the home.

  • For seniors, reduce your risk by having a health-care provider review your medications, have your vision checked and maintain a regular physical activity program to improve lower body strength and balance.

  • Make living areas safer for children by:„

    „o„installing window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows; and

    „o„using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around.

  • Ensure the surface of your child's playground is made of shock-absorbing material, such as hardwood mulch or sand.„

JEMS has recognized the significance of these injuries for prehospital care providers, and has covered the topic in many research reviews and a recent feature article, "Combat Hypoxia: The Importance of Airway Management & Oxygenation of the Traumatic Brain Injury Patient," March 2003.

Other resources

Brain Injury Awareness Month materials„

(from the Brain Injury Association of America's Web site)


MMWR article "Incidence Rates of Hospitalization Related to Traumatic Brain Injury-12 States, 2002"


More CDC information on injury prevention



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