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The Epidemiology of Traumatic Brain Injury

Corrigan, John D. PhD, ABPP; Selassie, Anbesaw W. DrPH; Orman, Jean A. (Langlois) ScD, MPH

Section Editor(s): Kreutzer, Jeffrey S. PhD, ABPP, FACRM; Arango-Lasprilla, Juan C. PhD

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: March-April 2010 - Volume 25 - Issue 2 - p 72–80
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3181ccc8b4

Objective To describe the most recent estimates of the incidence and prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and review current issues related to measurement and use of these data.

Design State of the science literature for the United States and abroad was analyzed and issues were identified for (1) incidence of TBI, (2) prevalence of lifetime history of TBI, and (3) incidence and prevalence of disability associated with TBI.

Results The most recent estimates indicate that each year 235 000 Americans are hospitalized for nonfatal TBI, 1.1 million are treated in emergency departments, and 50 000 die. The northern Finland birth cohort found that 3.8% of the population had experienced at least 1 hospitalization due to TBI by 35 years of age. The Christchurch New Zealand birth cohort found that by 25 years of age 31.6% of the population had experienced at least 1 TBI, requiring medical attention (hospitalization, emergency department, or physician office). An estimated 43.3% of Americans have residual disability 1 year after injury. The most recent estimate of the prevalence of US civilian residents living with disability following hospitalization with TBI is 3.2 million.

Conclusion Estimates of the incidence and prevalence of TBI are based on varying sources of data, methods of calculation, and assumptions. Informed users should be cognizant of the limitations of these estimates when determining their applicability.

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ohio State University, Columbus (Dr Corrigan); Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Epidemiology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston (Dr Selassie); and Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, District of Columbia (Dr Orman).

Corresponding Author: John D. Corrigan, PhD, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ohio State University, 480 Medical Center Dr, Columbus, OH 43210 (

The contents of this article were developed under the grant from the Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (grant H133A070029 [Corrigan]). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education or the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the reader should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.