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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Facts

Updated on October 25, 2019
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Brain Injury Scan


Traumatic Brain Injury Statistics

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) were first described in the 16th century by recounting the symptoms. Currently, 2.8 million people suffer from TBIs each year in the U.S. and 50,000 die annually. Adults 75 years or older are at the highest risk for these injuries. Falls are the leading cause of death for people over 65 years old, and brain injuries are common for children from 0-4 years of age. Between 2006-2014, brain injuries increased in the U.S. by 53%.

The next most common patients are children between 0-4 years old, then from 15 to 19 years of age. Worldwide 69 million people suffer from TBIs annually. In the U.K. TBIs are the most common cause of death for men under 40 years of age. Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of TBIs, particularly for 15 to 44 year olds.

Definition of Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic injury is a noncongenital, nondegenerative insult to the brain, which occurs due to a strike to the head, a fall or a motor vehicle accident that affects brain function. In the U.S. it is a serious public health risk. TBIs can lead to temporary or permanent impairment of physical, cognitive or psychosocial function. TBIs must be treated quickly as the consequences can rapidly deteriorate without medical intervention.

Head Injuries 5, Primary Brain Injuries

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

The symptoms of TBIs may appear immediately and other symptoms may not appear days, months or even after the patient returns to regular activities.

Four categories of TBIs with physical symptoms, emotional or mood changes and sleep patterns include the following:

  1. Difficulty in thinking clearly - headaches, fuzzy or blurry vision, irritability, sleeping more than usual
  2. Feeling slowed down - nausea or vomiting as an early symptoms, then dizziness, sadness, sleeping less than usual
  3. Difficulty concentrating - sensitivity to noise or light sensitivity and balance problems, more emotional and trouble falling to sleep
  4. Difficulty remembering new information - feeling tired or having no energy, nervousness or anxiety

In the United States in 2014, an average of 155 people daily died from TBI injuries. The survivors faced significant effects of their injury that lasted from days to the rest of their lives, which depended on the category of their injury.

TBI Danger Symptoms


Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Physicians use the Glasgow Coma Scale, which is a 15 point scale to evaluate a patient. They evaluate the patient's ability to follow directions and move their limbs and their eyelids.

Altered consciousness is certainly the first symptom to recognize. Seizures and fluid that is built up in the brain are serious symptoms. If there is a penetrating head wound then infection is a possibility. A bleed in the brain is very significant and it may be diagnosed by an MRI. The MRI can also show a small area of bruising (contusion) or scarring (gliosis). Complaints of vertigo and headaches are also important.

Other symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Paralysis of facial muscles and losing the sensation in the face
  • Loss or altered sense of smell
  • Loss or altered sense of taste
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Loss of hearing

The cognitive functions of memory, learning, judgment, reasoning and concentration or paying attention may be a factor. Difficulty in understanding speech, writing, speaking or having trouble following a conversation are also symptoms.

Moderate to Severe Brain Injury Symptoms

Mayo Clinic lists the symptoms of moderate to severe as follows:

“Physical symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours

  • Persistent headache or headache that worsens

  • Repeated vomiting or nausea

  • Convulsions or seizures

  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes

  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears

  • Inability to awaken from sleep

  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes

  • Loss of coordination

Cognitive or mental symptoms

  • Profound confusion

  • Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior

  • Slurred speech

  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness”



Military Personal Traumatic Brain Injuries

Mild TBIs are the most common diagnosis for our military, and they are the most difficult to diagnose. They are also the least well understood. They usually occur due to explosive blast from improvised explosive devices. Injuries may occur from blast exposures due to IEDs, land mines, suicide bombers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rouneds.

Current combat operations are directly impacted by these injuries, so they affect the level of unit readiness and troop retention in each branch of the service.

The bigger concern is the number of veterans coming home with traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress syndrome who have suicidal idealations. One third of these veterans that do commit suicide. The veterans from Iraq/Afghanistan have a higher rate of TBis compared to previous military conflicts due to changes in warfare tactics. There are more frequent improvised explosive device attacks now.

Football Players


Professional Football Players Risk of TBI’s

A study of 111 deceased football players who had TBI’s showed 110 players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTS). This is a degenerative brain disorder that is associated with TBIs. In 2017, a study of 202 deceased players researchers found that 177 had been diagnosed with CTE.

Fewer boys are participating in high school football due to the fear of head injuries. The NFL has changed several rules to try and prevent TBIs. The kickoffs have been moved from 30 to the 35 yard line and touchbacks have been changed from 20 to 25 yard line. Football helmets have been upgraded over the years. If a player has a possible concussion they are benched for the rest of the game and they may not play until they are cleared by a doctor. Penalties for unnecessary roughness have also increased.

Finding Hope After Traumatic Brain Injury: Corey Davis’s Story

Treatments for TBIs

Diuretics are often given to treat extra fluid that may cause swelling in the brain. Antiseizure medications are administered as there is a risk of seizures during the first week after a serious brain injury. Patients are sometimes put into a coma following a serious head injury as the brain needs less oxygen to function and they are placed in intensive care.

I have cared for head trauma patients as an RN in ICU. There are rare times when the injuries are so serious we drained cerebral spinal fluid from the brain and kept the patient’s blood pressure at a lower but stable rate.

Surgery may be necessary for repairing skull fractures, for a brain bleed or removing clotted blood.


A physiatrist often oversees the rehabilitation process as they are doctors trained in physical medicine. They manage the medical rehabilitation, prescribe medicine as needed and work with other care providers. They may include an occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, rehabilitation nurse, vocation counselor or a neuropsychologist.

Patients are encouraged to follow a routine, write things down, attend a support group and to stay focused.

Numerous clinical studies are in progress at top hospitals with promising results, but there is still a long way to go before serious TBIs do not have lifelong disabilities.

In Conclusion

A moderate or serious traumatic brain injury may lead to long term may cause permanent physical or mental disabilities. About 60% of moderate TBI patients will recover very well over time, but about 25% will have a moderate amount of disability. While TBIs are being diagnosed more rapidly, there are still many long term disabilities associated with these injuries.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rajan,

    I agree that we absolutely need to protect our children. I appreciate your comments.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    12 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    The article underlines the importance of preventing TBI especially in the very young and the aged by taking appropriate care of them because of the seriousness of the injuries. Thanks for this educative article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    16 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy, TBI's are absolutely serious. I think Trump made light of it to not give Iran any more power. I doubt he knows much about TBI's anyway.

    I have taken care of patients in the ICU with traumatic brain injuries and had to drain cerebral spinal fluid off their brains so their brain stem would not herniate.

    I am sorry to hear about your brother. Helicopter crashes are also very serious and quite often everyone dies. I hope you brother is okay now. Thank you so much for your comments, Peggy.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    16 months ago from Houston, Texas

    My youngest brother suffered a TBI, among many other things, when he was in the Army. Two helicopters collided mid-air and fell to the ground from 200 feet in height. He was one of 3 survivors. Most of them died on the scene. He suffered the rest of his life and had multiple surgeries until he died.

    The soldiers in Iraq that suffered TBIs after rockets launched at them from Iran have much more than "headaches" as our President has described. He needs to read your article or become better informed in some way.

    TBIs are serious. Good article, Pamela.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    19 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Audrey, I have heard many stories too. I know their helmets are much improved, but still getting even mild concussions can impact the players older years with dementia. I understand why parents aren't letting boys play football as much now.

    Thanks for commenting Audrey.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    19 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Abitha, You definitely are offering good advice. I imagine some people fall and hurt their head without seeing a doctor. I appreciate your comments.

  • Abitha Deepak profile image


    19 months ago from Chennai, Tamilnadu

    Dear Pamela,

    Thanks for the very informative piece. Helmets are crucial and it is important to get oneself checked after a fall or any kind of injury to the head.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    19 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    Thanks, Pamela, for this great information on TBI. I've heard many stories of young football players dealing with this. Such a shame!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Maven, You make me blush Maven with your comments. I do like to raise awareness about medical topics.

    I am not sure why we have had this increase. I know the military can be an issue but the number of troops in harm's way hasn't changed as far as I know. Riders not wearing helmets on motorcycles may influence the nubers. We have an older senior population, so falls have probably increase. That's all I can think of at the moments. Your comments are appreciated.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Maria, I have a friend who's son was riding his motorcycle with an unbuckled helmet on during the day. He got hit by a car while stopped at a light and the helmet flew off, so he died. It was awful as he didn't have a mark on him that you could see, but he was brain dead. So, obviously I feel strongly about wearing helmets.

    I do think this is such an important topic for people to be aware and I appreciat your sweet words, as always.

    Love and Hugs Maria

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    20 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Dear Pamela,

    I shiver in fear at those who ride a motorcycle without a helmet. I can't believe that laws make this optional.

    Thanks for once again raising awareness about a subject affecting 69 million people in the world.

    Have a peaceful evening. Love, Maria

  • maven101 profile image

    Larry Conners 

    20 months ago from Northern Arizona

    Pamela...You are the Florence Nightingale of hubpages...Wonderful article full of valuable information...What do you think is the reason for a 53% increase in TBI's in just 8 years ??

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ms. Dora, I have been concerned about the football players also, and I like to watch football. It is surely a dangerous sport.Thank you so much for your comments.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    20 months ago from The Caribbean

    Thank you for this detailed information and explanation of this condition. I've always been concerned about the football players. Some injuries have been severe. We all need to be careful.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, I hope they make more headway in preventing and treating TBIs. Thanks for stopping by and commentin, Linda

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi MG Singh, I'm glad to know you had no longterm problems after your concussion. I appreciate your comments.

  • emge profile image

    MG Singh emge 

    20 months ago from Singapore

    This is a wonderful article. Years back, I met with a motorcycle accident and suffered a brain concussion. Luckily I survived and recovered. Thank you for a very informative article

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    20 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    A traumatic brain injury sounds like it can be a horrible condition. I hope improved ways of preventing and treating it are soon discovered.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill, I am glad the NFL is finally trying to prevent those injuries. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    20 months ago from Olympia, WA

    The NFL is really struggling with this issue right now after years of ignoring it. It's slow progress but at least it is progress.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, I think your theory on soldiers geting medical care more quickly does explain the number who survive with long term injuies.

    I do hop parents make sure children wear a safe helmet. I appreciate you comments, Linda.

  • Carb Diva profile image

    Linda Lum 

    20 months ago from Washington State, USA

    Pamela, you might have saved another life today. Helmets are so important, but they don't look "cool." Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    As for battle injuries, I think many that would have died on the battlefield 50 years ago are now being saved from death because of modern medicine but are never restored to whole again because of the trauma. It's so very sad.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Clive, I appreciate your comment.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lorna, I think I coud have written this whole article about the dangers of sports. Contact sports, riding on a skate board or a bike can all be a problem. Thank you for sharing the information about your brother and your nice comment.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    20 months ago

    A very informative article and more care needs to be taken in the field of contact sports. My brother played Rugby for many years and was told to give it up due migraine headaches caused by the constant trauma to the head. Excellent article Pamela.

  • clivewilliams profile image

    Clive Williams 

    20 months ago from Jamaica

    Informative hub on this brain injury.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi again my friend, I am glad you have you have a porper helmet. Take care of yourself.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Liz, The effects of brain injuries can be awful. Thank you for your nice comments.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    We do not mess around here. I already went and go the helmet. Thanks for getting me off that thing I sit on.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    20 months ago from UK

    It's tragic to see people who one moment were fit and healthy and the next are facing life-threatening and life-limiting issues due to a brain injury. You describe the symptoms very clearly.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    20 months ago from Southern Illinois

    So many in uniform are coming home with head injuries. I found your article informative and easy to understand. Well done.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Flourish, I absolutely agree. There are so many ways to get a head injury. There is so much information out there I could have made this 3 times as long. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric, A goog helmet for protection is important. We have so many TBIs in ths country. I pray for injured soldiers too. Thaks for commenting.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    I have an old bike riding helmet. My elder son is pissed off about it. Thanks for this wake up to get a new one. I am quite lucky with many concussions not to have noticeable debilitation. I pray for victims.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    20 months ago from USA

    I’m so glad you mentioned football and these injuries. I also worry about soccer and obviously boxing. So sad. Some causes are preventable and we need to do what we can to minimize the risk.


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