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CDC Report Sheds Light on Hospital Visits, Deaths Related to Brain Injuries

By: Allan M. Siegel

Just over a week ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an article detailing the number of ER visits, hospitalizations, and deaths resulting from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The data included in the report was accumulated from surveys and health care providers nationwide for the year 2013, and is helping shed light on the impact brain injuries can have on victims, what groups may face the greatest risks of suffering TBI, and how medical professionals and communities can explore ways to better prevent, diagnose, and treat TBI.

Traumatic brain injuries of all types, from mild to severe, can have both short- and long-term effects on victims. Understanding these risks and how they manifest is important, and data collected by the CDC can help not only the medical community as they look to understand what can often be unpredictable outcomes, but also victims and families who should understand the importance of preventative measures and seeking timely medical treatment following any type of injury to the head.

Some of the most important findings from the CDC report include:

  • ER visits – In 2013, there were approximately 2.5 million emergency department visits related to traumatic brain injuries, more than in 2007. Often, the initial blunt force to the head, or rapid acceleration of the brain within the skull, sustained by TBI victims will lead to emergency room visits. These visits are critical to ensuring victims are properly evaluated and that any major trauma can be detected or ruled out. An increase in brain injury awareness could account for part of the increase in ER visits.
  • Hospitalizations – Roughly 282,000 victims were hospitalized for a traumatic brain injury in 2013, nearly 15,000 more TBI-related hospitalizations than in 2007. Hospitalization for TBI often happens when injuries or more severe or when medical professionals wish to monitor a victim in the initial period following trauma. The CDC noted that patients over 75, children under 4, and young adults ages 15 to 24 were most often hospitalized for a brain injury. The most common reasons for these hospitalizations included falls (especially among older adults), being hit by an object or colliding with an object, and auto accidents. Hospitalizations for brain injuries resulting from auto accidents increased in 2013 compared to 2007.
  • Deaths – There were an estimated 56,000 deaths related to traumatic brain injuries in 2013, which is more than the number of TBI-related deaths reported in 2007, according to the CDC. Additionally, intentional self-harm replaced motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of TBI-related deaths in 2013.

While the data shows there has been progress in reducing deaths caused by brain injuries sustained in auto accidents and by certain groups, it does raise concerns about other issues, including increases across the board in ER visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. It also sounds an alarm over the substantial increase in TBI-related falls, particularly among older adults.

According to the CDC, efforts to prevent and raise awareness about brain injuries and concussions in youth sports and athletics should set an example for public health attention to TBI and falls, as there is an urgent need to ensure older adults avoid falls that can lead to devastating outcomes. This includes adoption of the CDC-developed STEADI initiative (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) to reduce fall risks and other preventative measures.

While brain injuries can range in severity from concussions and mild TBI to severe brain injuries resulting in debilitating outcomes such as disability or death, it is important to remember that TBI is often unpredictable in the ways it can impact victims. The data released by the CDC can help remind everyone about a few key things that, although simple, can make all the difference:

  • Timely medical evaluations following a head injury
  • Reducing risks of falls, especially for older adults
  • Safe driving habits
  • Supervision of young children
  • Workplace safety, i.e. falling objects
  • Concussion protocol and safety standards in sports

Even when safety and vigilance become a priority, victims can still suffer traumatic brain injuries, especially when others are negligent. Fortunately, victims who suffer TBI in preventable incidents, including auto accidents, have the legal right to pursue financial compensation for their damages from the at-fault party that failed to uphold their legal duty of taking reasonable measures to reduce risks of accidents. These damages can include medical expenses, lost earnings caused by missing work, and pain, suffering, and anguish experienced by both victims and their loved ones.

Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. closely follows developments and reports in the brain injury field so as to continue our support in raising awareness, educating local residents, and fighting for those who have suffered TBI through no fault of their own. If you have questions about a potential case involving a concussion or traumatic brain injury, do not hesitate to call our firm and speak personally with a brain injury attorney in Washington, DC. Our firm also serves resident of Maryland and Virginia. Contact us for a free consultation.