Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, at least 1.7 million TBIs occur in the U.S. either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries.

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

Publications and Reports

Massachusetts Statistics

  • In 2005 there were 571 deaths among MA residents which were associated with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In FY 2005, there were 5193 inpatient hospitalizations, 1303 observation stays and 39,640 emergency department visits for nonfatal traumatic brain injury at MA acute care hospitals.
  • The leading cause of TBI-related death, hospitalization and emergency department visits is a fall.
  • Older MA residents, ages 65 years and over, have the highest rates of TBI-related death and hospitalization.
  • Infants under 1 year of age in MA have the highest rates of emergency room visits for a nonfatal TBI.
  • Most (68%) TBI-related deaths in 2005 were unintentional. Seventeen percent of TBI-related deaths were due to suicide. Ten percent of TBI-related deaths were due to homicide.

Prevention Tips

Adapted from CDC at

  • 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.

Related Links

For More Information

Julie Kautz Mills

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