Traumatic Brain Injury

In 2017, there were 61,000 deaths in the US due to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The two main sources of these injuries were suicide and accidental falls — and frankly, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Local officials tend to avoid labeling death as suicide unless there’s a clear justification, such as a note left by the deceased. Virtually all TBIs classified as suicide (97%) were gunshots to the head.

Concussions due to sports are related to lower GPA performance in high school, and an estimated 15% of high school athletes suffer concussions each year. My guess is that this number is understated. Neither students nor coaches like to report concussions, and may not seek medical attention for apparently “minor” events.

The RAND Corporation estimates the total cost of treatment of TBI as between $268,000 and $409,000 per case. Depending on the age in which the episode occurs, the cost can be much higher.

That’s an estimated overall total cost to taxpayers and insurance policy holders of $48 billion per year.

As noted in a prior blog, TBI can be caused by severe shaking of the brain, with the inner cortex and outer layers moving at different speeds. When that happens, neural connections are broken, which can impair thinking and function. It doesn’t require severe surface of visible damage.

Michael Jackson was right about the “man in the mirror.” That’s where change has to begin.



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