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Concussion and traumatic brain injury in the U.S.- Statistics & Facts

Concussion occurs when the head or body is hit or shaken hard enough that it moves and injures the brain. A concussion is also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and is the most common type of such injuries. Symptoms of concussion include, but are not limited to, headache, nausea, difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly, and dizziness. In more extreme cases concussion can cause one to lose consciousness, and repeated concussions can lead to long-term problems affecting speech, learning, and memory, however, most people fully recover from concussions given rest and time. In 2020, it was estimated that around 6.8 percent of children and adolescents in the United States aged 0 to 17 years had experienced symptoms of concussion or brain injury at some point in their life.

Concussion and brain injury among children and adolescents

Children and adolescents are particularly at risk of experiencing concussion and brain injury due to their bodies still developing and a high level of physical activity. In 2020, it was estimated that almost four percent of children and adolescents in the U.S. aged 0 to 17 years had been diagnosed with a concussion or brain injury at some point during their life. The probability of being diagnosed rises significantly with age, with over eight percent of those aged 12 to 17 years diagnosed at some time. Concussion and brain injury is also more common among boys than girls, with 4.7 percent of boys diagnosed compared to 3.1 percent of girls. One frequent cause of concussion among children and adolescents is through the playing of sports. The danger of concussion in sports, especially American football, has been highlighted more in recent years as the long-term effects of such injuries have become more apparent. In the period from 2010 to 2016, American football caused the highest number of emergency department visits for nonfatal sports-related traumatic brain injury among U.S. children and adolescents, followed by basketball and soccer.

Death from traumatic brain injury

Severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can cause similar, but more serious symptoms to a concussion, but can also result in permanent brain damage that requires physical or speech therapy, or even death. The most common cause of unintentional traumatic brain injury-related death in the United States is falling, followed by motor vehicle crashes. The most common cause of intentional traumatic brain injury-related death, and traumatic brain injury-related death overall, is suicide. The overall rate of traumatic brain injury-related death in the United States from 2016 to 2018 was 17.3 per 100,000 population with the states of Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana reporting the highest rates.


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