VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY

NATIONAL RESOURCE CENTER
FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation Psychology Division Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Statistics

QUESTION:
What are some good sources of statistical information on brain injury (incidence, prevalence, causes, etc.)?

ANSWER
Good sources of information and some of the most reliable statistics on brain injury include:

(1) The Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, www.tbindsc.org, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Department of Education, Washington, D.C. The TBI Model Systems National Data Center is located at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado. Sixteen Model Systems programs are located across the United States.

(2) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/Atlanta, Georgia. Several databases are maintained by the CDC and may be accessed by contacting: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, 6525 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782. Mortality Statistics Branch: (301) 436-8884 (data from death certificates); Hospital Care Statistics Branch: (301) 436-7125 (data from hospitals); National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: (301) 436-7132.

(3) The National Rehabilitation Information Center http://www.cais.net/naric/index.html (NARIC) funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education, maintains a vast amount of data on disability and rehabilitation. Contact NARIC at 8455 Colesville Road, Suite 935, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-3319 / Phone: (800) 346-2742 or (301) 588-9284.

(4) The Research and Training Center in Rehabilitation and Childhood Trauma maintains a Pediatric Trauma Registry which includes hospitals nationwide. Contact the RTC at New England Medical Center, 750 Washington Street, #75K-R, Boston, MA 02111 / Telephone: (617) 636-5031.

(5) The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives http://www.dana.org/brainweb/ has information on a variety of neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and alcohol/drug abuse. Statistics on brain injuries/anomalies, as well as information on current research are available. Contact the Dana Alliance at 1001 G Street, N.W., Suite 1025, Washington, D.C. 20001 / Phone: (202) 737-9200 or 745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 700, New York, New York 10151 / Phone: (212) 223-4040.


QUESTION:

How many brain injuries occur in the United States annually?

ANSWER

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that in 1990, there were roughly 2 million cases of traumatic brain injury. This includes 51,600 deaths. Data sources include vital registration data, hospital records, trauma registries, and personal interview surveys. Data from other sources indicate that somewhere between 20 - 30% of the injuries that occur each year are severe enough to result in lifelong disability. Young males are the highest risk group and are usually injured in motor vehicle accidents. Infants and the elderly are the second highest risk group and are usually injured in falls.

  • Reference: Waxweiler, R.J. et. al. (1995). "Monitoring the Impact of Traumatic Brain Injury: A Review and Update." Journal of Neurotrauma. Vol. 12. No. 4. Mary Ann Leibert, Inc.


QUESTION:
How many brain injuries occur each year in Virginia? Of these how many result in severe disability?

ANSWER
Virginia is one of the few states which operates a brain injury registry to which all hospitals in the Commonwealth are required by law to report. The Virginia Brain Injury Central Registry was established in 1984 to collect information on all individuals treated at Virginia hospitals for brain injury, whether they are treated in the Emergency Room or admitted. The registry attempts to collect data on all injuries which are likely to result in long-term or permanent disability, including diagnoses of "mild head injury," "closed head injury," and "concussion." Although reporting is mandated by Virginia law and hospitals are generally cooperative and diligent about reporting, the registry is not a precise or scientifically reliable measure of incidence of brain injury in Virginia. Hospitals make mistakes in reporting, mild brain injuries are undiagnosed and under-reported, and there is no validation of the data collected (e.g., a margin of error is not identified).

Although it is flawed, the Virginia Brain Injury Central Registry is the best indicator of brain injury incidence that we have in the Commonwealth. Based on totals for the past 4 years, it is estimated that roughly 10,000 new injuries are reported by hospitals each year. Of those who survive their injuries, an overwhelming majority are reported as mild (according to Glasgow Coma Scores which fall in the 13-15 range). National estimates of brain injury incidence and severity bear this out, as well; and most of these mild injuries resolve.

Efforts to improve the Virginia Brain Injury Central Registry are ongoing. For more scientifically sound statistics on brain injury, see the FAQ regarding sources of statistical information.

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