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For Release: March 6, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Falls and Motor Vehicle Injuries Cause Most Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month is March

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious and costly condition due to the high number of persons injured and the possible long-term effects of TBI. Medical care costs and indirect costs, such as lost productivity, totaled $64 billion in 2005 in the United States. Estimated costs for TBI in Oklahoma in 2005 were $768 million.

A TBI results from trauma such as an object striking the head or the head striking an object, and/or rapid acceleration and deceleration inside the skull as with a car crash. Injuries may be open (skull penetrated) or closed (skull intact). Damage to the brain may interrupt connections within the brain, affecting how a person thinks, learns, works, and carries on daily activities.

Nationally, there are an estimated 2.2 million cases of TBI each year. Approximately 52,000 people die, 270,000 are hospitalized, and 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s (OSDH) Injury Prevention Service, about 3,800 Oklahomans are hospitalized and 850 die each year from TBI.

Common causes of TBI include falls (35 percent), motor vehicle crashes (32 percent), gunshot injuries (12 percent), assaults (11 percent), sports (4 percent), pedestrian injuries (4 percent), and other causes (2 percent).
Persons most frequently hospitalized with TBI are 15- to 24-year-olds, the majority due to motor vehicle crashes, and persons 75- to 84-years-old, due to falls. Violence-related TBI usually involves suicidal behavior, assaults with firearms, shaken baby syndrome, and domestic abuse in families. Males experience TBI twice as often as females.

When someone suffers a head injury, the effects may appear immediately, or days, weeks and even months later. Approximately 60 percent of injuries are not serious and people have no ill effects or have symptoms that subside completely in a few days or weeks. However, people who survive a serious TBI may experience physical, sensory, cognitive, social, behavioral, or other severe limitations that may require long-term rehabilitative and community services.

“The OSDH is using the March observance of Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month as an opportunity to explain how brain injury occurs and the long-term problems that may affect persons with TBI, their families, and communities. We also want to stress the importance of prevention by using seat belts, car seats for children, helmets, obeying traffic rules and signals, and keeping a safe home environment,” said OSDH TBI Project Director Dr. Ruth Azeredo.

Immediate or long-term problems that may occur among younger children with TBI include the following:

Loss of balance, unsteady walking

Changes in behavior that are not developmentally related

Listless, tires easily

Immediate or long-term problems that may occur among older children with TBI include:

Diminished ability to concentrate, process information, and remember/recall in school

Challenges with new learning

Academic/social difficulties

Subtle or major personality change

Immediate or long-term problems that may occur among adults with TBI include:

Unusual drowsiness, trouble sleeping, or difficulty waking up

Fatigue, tire easily

Problems with short or long-term memory

Trouble making decisions, poor judgment

Blurred, double or loss of vision

Inappropriate behavior, depression, unable to work

OSDH health officials remind you that after an accident where there is a possible head injury, remember to:

Seek medical attention at once.

If known, report exactly how the injury occurred.

Watch for and report loss of consciousness, bleeding from ears or nose, seizures, unequal pupils, and if person is dazed or unable to talk understandably.

For more information about TBI, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at

(405) 271-3430 or view this Website:

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