Traumatic Brain Injury

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Traumatic Brain Injury


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results from an insult to the head from an external force. Injuries can be penetrating (through the skull and into the brain) or nonpenetrating. These injuries can disrupt normal brain function and may affect an individual's physical, cognitive, and behavioral functioning.

Traumatic Brain Injury Guidebook

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs quickly and in an instant a person's life is changed. These changes not only affect the individual who has sustained the injury, they also affect family and friends. No brain injury is too mild to ignore or too severe to lose hope.

When you or someone you know sustains a TBI, activities once easy to perform may become much more challenging. You may feel overwhelmed with emotion and you may be searching for answers to many questions about what is happening and what the future may hold for you or your loved one.

The Traumatic Brain Injury Guidebook is intended to provide useful information to families, friends, and individuals who have recently been affected by a TBI. The process of recovering from a TBI can be complex and lengthy. Patients and families are confronted with many new terms, multiple medical personnel, and sometimes difficult decisions.

The staff at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center and Barrow Neurological Institute compiled this guidebook with the goal of helping you become a more knowledgeable participant in the process of recovering from a TBI.

We also encourage you to ask questions and discuss your concerns with the many health care professionals you will meet.

Traumatic Brain Injury Guidebook 

Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the most common cause of death and disability in children in the United States. Causes of TBI include; falls, automobile accidents, sports injuries, and child abuse. The severity of TBI in children can range from a concussion, to bleeding within and around the brain, stroke, and even death. Children who survive a TBI, they may face problems with memory, concentration, school performance, inappropriate behavior, migraines, dizziness, and seizures.

Preventing TBI

Safety is the key to preventing TBI in children. Seatbelts, helmets, and an understanding of the law can reduce and minimize injury to the brain. All children should wear a seatbelt. Those under twelve years of age should be placed in the back seat of a motor vehicle. They should be positioned in an appropriate seat based on their age (click here for AAP guidelines). A child should always wear a helmet that has been properly fitted when on a bicycle, a skateboard, or any other wheeled apparatus.

Children should know the rules of the road when on a bicycle or crossing the street. They should wear proper protective headgear when engaging in sports such as football and hockey. What to do if your child suffers a head injury: When confronted with a child who has had an injury, it is important to know the signs of TBI. These include: a loss of consciousness, confusion, drowsiness, amnesia, prolonged headache, and persistent vomiting. If any of these exist, they should consult a physician immediately. If there is any doubt or concern, an emergency room visit is warranted.

Traumatic Brain Injury Facts

  • Of the 1.5 million individuals per year that sustain a traumatic brain injury in the United States, 50,000 die, 235,000 are hospitalized, and 1.1 million are treated and released from emergency departments (see reference 1).
  • About 2,685 children (ages 0-14) die; 37,000 are hospitalized, and 435,000 visit the emergency department annually (see reference 1).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that at least 5.3 million Americans currently need assistance with daily activities as a result of traumatic brain injury (see reference 2).
  • In 2000 the direct and indirect costs associated with traumatic brain injury in the United States were estimated at $60 billion (see reference 3).


  1. Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Thomas KE. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2004
  2. Thurman D, Alverson C, Dunn K, Guerrero J, Sniezek J. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: a public health perspective. Journal of Head Trauma and Rehabilitation 1999;14(6):602 615
  3. Finkelstein E, Corso P, Miller T and associates. The Incidence And Economic Burden of Injuries in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006
  4. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control website, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed August 2006 (This website link is provided for your convenience only. Barrow Neurological Institute does not necessarily endorse the views expressed or the facts presented on the site, nor is responsible for the content on the site in any way.)

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For more information, please call 1-800-BARROW1 (227-7691) or 602-406-6281.

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