what is a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

A TBI IS a disruption in brain function, caused by an external force to the head  



  • Over 2.8 million TBIs occur in the U.S. annually

  • 3.2 – 5.3 million people in the U.S. are currently living with a TBI-related disability

  • 70-80% of all TBIs are mild, which includes concussions



  • 3 main categories: mild, moderate, or severe

    • However, the clinical diagnosis of mild, moderate, or severe is not necessarily associated with long-term symptoms, which vary greatly from person to person, even within the same category

  • A concussion is a mild TBI

    • It often heals within days or weeks, but can result in long-term functional deficits


  • Each TBI is unique, manifesting differently depending on several factors:

    • Mechanism of injury

    • Severity

    • History of previous TBIs

    • Age


TBI causes a wide range of effects, which may include: 

  • Cognitive

    • Impulsivity

    • Memory loss

    • Confusion

    • Difficulty concentrating

    • Light and/or sound sensitivity

    • Difficulty communicating


  • Physical

    • Headache

    • Dizziness

    • Nausea/vomiting

    • Loss of coordination/balance

    • Chronic pain

    • Poor vision


  •  Emotional

    • Irritability

    • Sadness

    • Anxiety

    • Denial

    • Lack of self-efficacy

    • Uncooperative



  • Falls – 40.5%

  • Other/unknown – 19.0%

  • Blunt trauma – 15.5%

  • Motor vehicle accidents – 14.3%

  • Assaults – 10.7%

  • Main causes of mild TBI

    • Sports

    • Blast (common military injury)


Important Facts:

  • No two brain injuries are the same

  • Recovering from a TBI can be a long journey

  • The “invisible” injury

    • Sometimes people may seem fully recovered, but in fact are still dealing with the ongoing consequences of their injury

  • How to support someone with a TBI

    • Be patient, positive, encouraging, and understanding as they acclimate to their new normal

useful resourceS:

Report to Congress on Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Epidemiology and Rehabilitation