Overview of TBI

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is damage to the brain caused by a blow to the head. The severity of the injury may range from minor, with few or no lasting consequences, to major, resulting in profound disability or death.

Although any injury to the brain is serious, and severe damage can be fatal, medical and surgical advances have improved the odds for surviving a TBI. Nevertheless, coping with the life-changing consequences of traumatic brain injury presents a great challenge for patients, families, physicians, therapists, and society.

Incidence and Prevalence of TBI

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2.5 million TBIs occur either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries each year in the United States and more than 50,000 people die from the injury. Estimates of the number of people who have survived a TBI is broad—brain injury may go unreported—and ranges from 2.5 million to 6.5 million.

The cost of traumatic brain injuries in the United States is estimated at more than $48.3 billion annually: over $31.7 billion in hospitalization costs and another $16.6 billion+ in costs associated with fatalities.

The CDC estimates the total cost of acute care and rehabilitation for TBI victims in the United States is about $10 billion per year, not including indirect costs to families and society (e.g., lost earnings, work time, and productivity for family members, caregivers, and employers, or the costs associated with providing social services).

It is estimated that over a lifetime, it can cost between $600,000 and $1,875,000 to care for a survivor of severe TBI.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Sep 2001

Last Modified: 12 Mar 2014