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Traumatic brain injuries and the tragic consequences

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is typically caused by a blow to the head that interferes with normal brain activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40 percent of these injuries from 2006 to 2010 were caused by falls, but many were also caused by assaults, motor vehicle accidents and being struck by an object. Various sports and other types of recreation also caused a number of TBIs from 2001 to 2009, particularly in children and young adults.

No matter what they are caused by, traumatic brain injuries can result in death and disability for a large number of people in Pittsburgh. According to the CDC, TBIs play a role in approximately 30 percent of deaths by injury.

With close to 140 people dying from TBIs every day, it is important to learn more about brain injury. However, not all TBIs result in death. Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to severe. A majority of TBIs are mild and are also referred to as concussions. A concussion can result in a brief loss of consciousness or temporary change in mental state. A victim of a severe TBI can suffer from impaired thinking, long-term memory loss, impaired vision or hearing and emotional functioning. Some can even suffer from permanent disability.

Statistics show that TBIs were involved in close to 2.5 million emergency department hospitalizations, visits or deaths in 2010 in the United States. Many times, TBIs were the sole cause of trouble. In other cases, TBIs caused problems when they were combined with other injuries. Men are more likely to die as a result of a TBI and have higher rates of TBI-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations than women.

Those who have suffered TBIs have a long, difficult road of recovery ahead and endless medical expenses. In brain injury cases, it is particularly important to hold whoever is responsible for the injury accountable for their actions.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Fact Sheet," accessed on Jan. 26, 2015

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