Reports of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among adults, particularly in professional sports, are often in the news. But what about TBIs among children and youth? In 2012, an estimated 329,290 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in emergency departments (EDs) for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI. From 2001 to 2012, the rate of ED visits for sports and recreation-related injuries with a diagnosis of concussion or TBI, alone or in combination with other injuries, more than doubled among children (age 19 or younger).
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Definition: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused by a blow or jolt to the head which disrupts normal brain function or by a foreign object penetrating the skull. Studies have found that the four most common causes of TBIs are falls, motor vehicle and traffic accidents, struck by/against events, and assaults (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations and Deaths 2002-2006 webpage).
Magnitude of the Problem: The CDC estimates that in the U.S. around 1.7 million people sustain a TBI every year. TBI is a contributing factor in almost one third of all injury deaths. In addition:
- Each year nearly half a million (473,947) children between the ages of 0 and 14 are treated in emergency departments for TBI-related injuries;
- TBIs are most commonly sustained by children between the ages of 0 and 4, adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19, and adults age 65 and over; and
- TBI rates are higher for boys than girls.
Prevention: Strategies for preventing TBIs include:
- Ensuring that new parents receive education on the prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome;
- Installing safety gates on stairs and guards on windows to prevent falls by young children;
- Practicing proper traffic safety, such as wearing a seatbelt and using child safety seats or booster seats for children;
- Providing a soft landing surface below playground equipment;
- Using appropriate protective equipment while engaging in sports (e.g., wearing a helmet while bicycling or snowboarding);
- Providing training to coaches and officials so that they can take steps to prevent sport-related TBIs and can recognize TBIs and respond appropriately when these injuries do occur; and
- Educating parents and young athletes so that they understand the risks and recognize the signs and symptoms of sport-related TBIs.
In 2015, injuries caused 13,363 deaths in U.S. children and adolescents aged 0-19. In addition, injuries were responsible for 200,225 hospitalizations and almost 7.7 million emergency department (ED) visits in this population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], WISQARS, 2017). One important way to understand the burden of childhood injuries is by looking at the costs of those injuries.