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Traumatic Brain Injury FAQs

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States.

TBIs contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths.1 Every day, 153 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.1 Those who survive a TBI can face effects that last a few days, or the rest of their lives. Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). These issues not only affect individuals but can have lasting effects on families and communities.

Traumatic Brain Injuries Workers' Compensation

What is a TBI?

A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury). Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions.

How big is the problem?

  • In 2013,1 about 2.8 million TBI-related emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths occurred in the United States.
  • TBI contributed to the deaths of nearly 50,000 people.
  • TBI was a diagnosis in more than 282,000 hospitalizations and 2.5 million ED visits. These consisted of TBI alone or
  • TBI in combination with other injuries.
  • Over the span of six years (2007–2013), while rates of TBI-related ED visits increased by 50%, hospitalization rates increased by 11% and death rates decreased by 7%.

What are the leading causes of TBI?

In 2013,1 falls were the leading cause of TBI. Falls accounted for 47% of all TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States. Falls disproportionately affect the youngest and oldest age groups:

Nearly 4 in 5 (79%) TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in adults aged 65 and older were caused by falls.
Being struck by or against an object was the second leading cause of TBI, accounting for about 15% of TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States in 2013.

Among all age groups, motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths (14%). When looking at just TBI-related deaths, motor vehicle crashes were the third leading cause (19%) in 2013.

Both shift work and long working hours present a substantial and well-documented detrimental effect on safety -.


Studies show many workers are at a higher risk of accidents at night or on shift work. The findings are most relevant to safety-critical activities such as the transport and health sectors. Work periods more than 8 hours carry an increased risk of accidents, so that the increased risk of accidents at around 12 hours is twice the risk at 8 hours. Shift work including nights carries a substantial increased risk of accidents, whereas “pure” night work may bring some protection against this effect.