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April 12, 2002
Contact: CDC, National Center for Injury
Prevention and Control
(770) 488–4902

Fact Sheet

Traumatic Brain Injury

Although injuries are the second leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), little is known about non-fatal injuries in this population. This study describes the causes and impact of one type of injury— traumatic brain injury (TBI) on AI/ANs using Indian Health Service (IHS), tribal or contract hospital discharge data.

  • Between 1992-1996, IHS, tribal, or contract care hospitals recorded 4,491 TBI-related hospitalizations among AI/ANs with an average length of stay of 4.7 days. Males had almost three times as many TBIs as females.

  • The major causes of hospitalizations for TBI were motor vehicle collisions (24%), assaults (17%), and falls (16%). These findings indicate that falls contribute to TBI among AI/AN almost as much as assaults.

  • Among AI/ANs age 15-24, motor vehicle collisions were the most common cause of TBI. For young adults 25-34 years and 35-44 years, assaults were the most likely cause of TBI, although only 5% of cases involved firearms. For youth 0-14 years and adults 45 years and older, falls were the leading cause of injury.

  • The highest number of hospitalized TBIs among AI/ANs were found in the Northern Plain states and Alaska.

  • In a previous CDC study, the Navajo Nation has shown that enactment and enforcement of a mandatory seat belt law led to increases in seat belt use and a 29% reduction in motor-vehicle-related injuries among Navajo Nation residents.

Notes to the Editor:
For the MMWR, please link to this website: For more information about injuries, visit the CDC's website at:


CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.


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This page last updated April 11, 2002

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