Let’s Prevent Traumatic Brain Injury

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About 150 Americans die from TBI-related injuries each day.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by

  • A bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or
  • A penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.

TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths. Those who survive TBI can face effects lasting a few days to disabilities that last the rest of their lives.

Effects of TBI can include:

  • Impaired thinking or memory,
  • Impaired movement,
  • Impaired sensations, for example vision or hearing, or
  • Emotional changes, for example personality changes or depression.

These issues can affect individuals and have lasting effects on families and communities.

The leading causes of nonfatal TBI include:

  • Falls,
  • Being struck by or against an object, and
  • Motor vehicle crashes.

The leading causes of TBI that lead to death are suicide and falls.

Preventing older adult falls, improving safe play in sports, and increasing motor vehicle safety can reduce TBI. Public health approaches to injury prevention can reduce the rate of TBI and its long-term consequences.

Preventing Older Adult Falls

From 2008 to 2017, fall-related TBI deaths increased significantly, as the entire country saw a 17% increase. Older adults were most at risk, specifically those who were 75 years of age and older. These numbers show that we must work to prevent fall-related TBI among older adults as the U.S. population ages.

Here are some steps that older adults can take to prevent falls:

  • Talk to your doctor about fall risk and prevention.
  • Do strength and balance exercises.
  • Have your eyes checked.
  • Make your home safer by:
    • Getting rid of things you can trip over.
    • Adding grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
    • Putting railings on both sides of stairs.
    • Making sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.

Learn more about older adult fall prevention.

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Risk of death from unintentional injury doubles following a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury.

Improving Sports Safety
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CDC has an educational gaming app designed to teach children 6-8 years old about basic concussion safety. Children can learn the benefits of playing it safe and smart through a futuristic world of galactic racing adventures. The app teaches children about the different ways the brain can get hurt during sports activities and how important it is to tell a coach, parent, or other adult when an injury occurs. Learn more about this free app!

We know that prevention is possible. You can help by creating a culture of concussion safety on your team or in your community.

Here’s how:

  • Change the “win-at-all costs” mentality.
  • Talk to young athletes about concussion safety.
  • Model, expect, and reinforce safe play.

Get concussion information on every sideline. Learn about Opportunities to Reshape the Culture Around Concussion in Sports.

Increasing Motor Vehicle Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of TBI-related deaths for youth and young adults.

Everyone can improve motor vehicle safety by:

  • Using seat belts on every trip, no matter how short. Make sure all passengers buckle up too.
  • Buckling children in age and size appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. Kids ages 12 and under should be properly buckled in the back seat.
  • Choosing not to drive after drinking alcohol or using drugs and helping others do the same.
  • Knowing your state’s graduated driver licensing laws, and considering using tools such as CDC’s parent-teen driving agreement if you are the parent of a teen driver.

Learn more about all of these tips on the Motor Vehicle Safety website.