Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, 138 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.

TBI's are caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness (also known as a concussion), to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. (CDC) The leading causes of TBI are falls, strikes to the head during sports, motor vehicle crashes, and assaults.

For more information about sports-related head injuries and concussions, go to www.mass.gov/sportsconcussion.

Massachusetts Statistics

  • In 2012 there were 840 deaths among Massachusetts residents which were associated with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In FY 2013, there were 5,879 inpatient hospitalizations, 2,213 observation stays and 67,397 emergency department visits for nonfatal traumatic brain injury at Massachusetts acute care hospitals.
  • The leading cause of TBI-related death, hospitalization and emergency department visits is a fall.
  • Older Massachusetts residents, ages 65 years and over, have the highest rates of TBI-related death and hospitalization.
  • Massachusetts children ages 0-14 in Massachusetts have the highest rates of TBI-related emergency room visits.

Prevention Tips

Adapted from CDC at www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi/Prevention.htm.

  • Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
  • Buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt (according to the child's height, weight, and age).
  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Wear a helmet and make sure your children wear helmets when:
    • Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle
    • Playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing
  • Make living areas safer for seniors and children to prevent falls.
  • Make sure the surface on your child's playground is made of shock-absorbing material, such as hardwood mulch or sand.
  • Stay away from violence and guns.

Publications and Reports

Other TBI data

Related Links

For More Information


This information is provided by the Injury Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health.