Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries

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A brain injury is something that can happen to anyone. This includes people who are in the military, car accidents, or even from a fall. The trauma that results from a brain injury can make it hard for victims to take care of themselves and their loved ones. For traumatic brain injury cases, the medical expenses are costly too.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious thing that can lead to significant personality changes, not to mention problems with handling the demands of daily life. Cognitive and physical disabilities are common as well. Here are some facts about TBI.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury is defined as a neurological disorder in which blood flow to the brain is disrupted by physical trauma, such as a blow to the head, a truck crash, a punch or fall, or a motor vehicle accident. This can damage blood vessels, cells, and structures in the brain, and may result in loss of consciousness, damage to the brain, and disability. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 adults in the United States will have a traumatic brain injury during their lifetime. According to the most recent TBI data available, there were almost 61,000 people who died from TBI-related causes in 2019. This number is staggering and has been growing over the last few years.

What causes a traumatic brain injury?

Unlike the chronic, non-traumatic effects of a brain injury, traumatic brain injury is associated with a brief window of recovery and learning. This short window, with consequent prolonged pain and difficulty concentrating, is most often associated with sports-related trauma to the head, such as contact with a hard surface, a face-to-face blow, or sports-related head injury, such as a blow to the head during a collision. 

Common events causing traumatic brain injury include the following:

  • Vehicle-related collisions: Vehicle-related collisions are a leading cause of traumatic brain injury. They account for a staggering 67% of head injuries. There are 2.2 million car accidents in the US every year, and one out of every five is a collision involving a motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian. Seventy-five percent of these accidents are the result of distracted driving. 
  • Falls: Falling is one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury in the U.S. From bed or a ladder, downstairs, in the bath, and other falls, they’re responsible for roughly 30% of traumatic brain injuries each year. 
  • Violence: An assault is any physical or verbal action that causes harm to somebody. Gunshot wounds, domestic violence, child abuse and other assaults are common causes of traumatic brain injury. Shaken baby syndrome is the most severe type of traumatic brain injury in infants. 
  • Sport injuries: There are several sports that can lead to injuries, but the most common are football, soccer, baseball, hockey, boxing, lacrosse, and skateboarding. These are especially common in adolescents.
  • Explosive blasts: Although the mechanism of the damage is still unclear, many researchers believe that the pressure wave may cause significant disruption to brain function. These injuries are often common among war veterans.
  • Other causes: A TBI may result from penetrative wounds, critical blows to the head with debris and/or shrapnel, physical collisions with objects in the wake of a blast and falls. It is worth mentioning here that if your injuries are a result of someone else’s negligence you should seek immediate legal advice.

What are the short-term effects of a traumatic brain injury?

The initial impact of a traumatic brain injury can damage a person’s memory, cognition, and personality. People can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic brain injury, and they can have trouble concentrating and holding down a job. 

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What are the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury?

After a time, the brain’s ability to heal itself begins to erode, leading to brain shrinkage or death of brain cells. This process is known as neurodegeneration. What are the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury? Like brain cells, gray matter in the brain is constantly renewed by new nerve cells being created. After traumatic brain injuries, the same area of the brain may be damaged repeatedly. This can disrupt the brain’s communication process and damage the ability to process new information.

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury can result in:

  • Coma – A person who has fallen into a coma is unconscious and unable to move. This can last for days, weeks, or even months. In some cases, they will wake up or go into a vegetative state.
  • Vegetative state – Widespread damage to the brain can lead to a vegetative state. A person in a vegetative state may be unaware of his or her surroundings, but they may open their eyes, respond to reflexes, make sounds, and move.
  • Minimally conscious – this is a condition of a severely altered consciousness yet with various signs of awareness of one’s environment and self-awareness. A person who is in a minimally conscious state is often transitioning from vegetative condition or coma to significant recovery.
  • Brain death – People who are declared brain dead no longer have any signs of brain activity. They are not able to think, move, or breathe on their own. When breathing devices are removed, they will cease breathing and ultimately experience heart failure.


Traumatic brain injuries are a serious problem in the United States. On average, 2.5 million people will suffer from TBI annually, and around 288,000 of those will require hospitalization.

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of TBI. Athletes, particularly in high impact sports, can suffer brain injuries on the field or court. Slip-and-fall accidents or workplace accidents can also contribute to brain injury. 

After enduring a traumatic brain injury, many families and victims are left to pick up the pieces. These injuries can be life changing and come with many costs that need to be covered.

Article edited and fact checked by our editorial team.


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