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Top Causes of Brain Injury Differ by Age

We have all heard of traumatic brain injury (TBI). We know that people of every age can suffer brain injury. But do you know that the top causes of brain injury are different for children and teens? We hear brain scans are used in determining traumatic brain injuryabout brain injuries affecting athletes, resulting from terrible traffic accidents, or from gunshot wounds. But we typically do not hear as much about brain injuries in children and teens, often leaving them disabled for the rest of their lives. The top three causes of TBI (according to are car accidents, firearms, and falls.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.5 million people suffer traumatic brain injury in the U.S. every year. About 50,000 die from the brain injury and 85,000 suffer long term disability. About 5.3 Americans are living with disabilities caused by traumatic brain injury.

Here are some other compelling facts about brain injury:

  1. 91 percent of firearms injuries are fatal.
  2. The age groups most likely to suffer brain injury are teens, young adults and people over age 75.
  3. Males between the ages of 14 and 24 are at greatest risk of brain injury, followed by infants and the elderly.
  4. Due to differences in risk-taking, males are at twice the risk of sustaining brain injury than females.
  5. Adults aged 65 and over and children aged 5 and under are at greatest risk of sustaining brain injury due to a fall.
  6. For people between the ages of 5 and 64, transportation-related injuries are the most common cause of brain injuries.
  7. The severity of brain injury depends upon the cause. Brain injuries caused by firearms are likely to be fatal, but only 11 percent of those caused by a fall are fatal.a child who has hit her head in a fall should be evaluated for brain injury

A study reported in 2014 by Washington University in St. Louis, MO found that young children most often sustained brain injuries from falling. Teens, on the other hand, are most likely to suffer brain injuries from car accidents, contact sports, and assault.

Prior to the study, previous research had shown that TBI was the leading cause of death in children older than 1 year. However, research had not analyzed the cause of the injuries or a correlation with the age of a child.

Here, in summary form, are the findings about TBI in children:

  1. Falls were the most common cause of TBI in children between age 2 and age 12.
    1. Falls from elevation or from heights caused 24 percent of all reported brain injuries.
    2. Falls from a standing, walking, or running position caused 14 percent of all reported head traumas.
    3. For this age group falls caused 38 percent of all reported TBIs.
    4. The second most common cause of brain injury for this age group was accidental strike to the head with an object, the cause of 9 percent of reported brain injuries.
  2. Falls were the cause of 80 percent of TBI in children under the age of 2.
    1. Falls from elevation or from heights caused 54 percent of brain injuries reported.
    2. Falls down stairs caused 14 percent of reported brain injuries.
    3. These very young children also sustained brain injuries from simply falling to the ground, accounting for 9 percent of all brain injuries.

What’s the takeaway? There are several.

First, never underestimate the severity of a head injury in any person of any age. Every head injury warrants examination and assessment by medical professionals.

Second, recognize that TBI causes vary by age. Any time a child or an elderly person falls and hits his or her head, they are at risk of a serious brain injury and should be assessed by a doctor.

Third, be smart about how children typically sustain TBI, and check them carefully if they fall off a chair or a table, or if they fall from a greater height. But do not underestimate the potential for TBI if traumatic brain injury can result from a fall from a skateboardthey simply fall down and hit their head.

Fourth, children and teens –especially boys — love contact sports and daring activities that can result in TBI. Insist that they wear protective gear (helmet, padding, etc.) when engaging in these activities. In addition, it is wise to insist that they never engage in these activities alone (without someone to get immediate help if they are injured).

Fifth, if a child, a teenager, or an adult of any age sustains a head injury, call 911, and then call Altizer Law, P.C. We will investigate for you to determine if someone should be held liable for the injury and to help you evaluate the full coverage you are entitled to from your insurance policy. If someone else is liable for the conditions resulting in the injury, we will represent you to obtain a financial settlement.