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brainWhat is Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?

An ABI is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth and is not hereditary, congenital or degenerative. The injury commonly results in a change in neuronal activity, which affects the physical integrity, the metabolic activity, or the functional ability of the cell. The term does not refer to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Includes TBI and injuries caused by an internal insult to the brain.

Causes of ABI:

  • TBI
  • Tumor
  • Blood clot
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Toxic exposure (e.g., substance abuse, ingestion of lead, inhalation of volatile agents)
  • Infections (encephalitis, meningitis)
  • Metabolic disorders (insulin shock, diabetic coma, liver and kidney disease)
  • Neurotoxic poisoning
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain (airway obstruction, strangulation, cardiopulmonary arrest, carbon monoxide poisoning, drowning)


What is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

TBI is an insult to the brain, not of a degenerative or congenital nature but caused by an external physical force, that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness, which results in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning. It can also result in the disturbance of behavioral or emotional functioning. These impairments may be either temporary or permanent and cause partial or total functional disability or psychosocial maladjustment.

Causes of TBI

  • Falls
  • Motor Vehicle Crashes
  • Gunshot Wounds
  • Sports Injuries
  • Workplace Injuries
  • Child Abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Military Actions
  • Other injuries caused by trauma

How many people have TBI? – Centers for Disease Control & Prevention 2010 Report

National Statistics

  • In 2013,1 about 2.8 million TBI-related emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths occurred in the United States.

  • TBI contributed to the deaths of nearly 50,000 people.

  • TBI was a diagnosis in more than 282,000 hospitalizations and 2.5 million ED visits. These consisted of TBI alone or TBI in combination with other injuries.

  • Stokes are a brain injury and…

In 2016, about 795,000 people had a stroke in the US
About 185,000 of those were recurrent strokes that happened to people who previously had a stroke. 

What are the leading causes of TBI?

  • In 2013,1 falls were the leading cause of TBI. Falls accounted for 47% of all TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States. Falls disproportionately affect the youngest and oldest age groups:
  • More than half (54%) of TBI-related ED visits hospitalizations, and deaths among children 0 to 14 years were caused by falls.
  • Nearly 4 in 5 (79%) TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in adults aged 65 and older were caused by falls.
  • Being struck by or against an object was the second leading cause of TBI, accounting for about 15% of TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States in 2013.
  • Over 1 in 5 (22%) TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in children less than 15 years of age were caused by being struck by or against an object.
  • Among all age groups, motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths (14%). When looking at just TBI-related deaths, motor vehicle crashes were the third leading cause (19%) in 2013.
  • Intentional self-harm was the second leading cause of TBI-related deaths (33%) in 2013.


The number of people with TBI who are not seen in an emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.

Vermont Statistics (2005)

  • Population of Vermont: 606,000
  • 8,000 Vermonters are currently living with a TBI
  • 2,619 Emergency Room Visits per year
  • 400 Vermonters are injured each year
  • 100 Vermonters sustain a moderate to severe brain injury each year
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents are the #1 cause of brain injury
  • Substances involved in 63% of injuries
  • 70% are males
  • 70% of individuals are discharged to home with little if no support

Who is at highest risk for TBI?

  • In every age group, TBI rates are higher for males than for females.
  • Motor vehicle-traffic injury is the leading cause of TBI related death. Rates are highest for adults aged 20 to 24 years.
  • Certain military duties (e.g., paratrooper) increase the risk of sustaining a TBI.
  • African Americans have the highest death rate from TBI.

What are the costs of TBI?

  • Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 2000.

What are the long-term consequences of TBI?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI. According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need forservices one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were:

  • Improving memory and problem solving
  • Managing stress and emotional upsets
  • Controlling one's temper
  • Improving one's job skills

TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, and/or emotions. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.

Symptoms of Mild Brain Injury/Concussion include:

  • Low-grade headache that won't go away
  • Having more trouble than usual remembering things, paying attention or concentrating, organizing daily tasks, or making decisions and solving problems
  • Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading
  • Getting lost or easily confused
  • Feeling tired all the time, lack of energy or motivation
  • Change in sleep pattern, sleeping much longer than before, having trouble sleeping
  • Loss of balance, feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds, lights, distractions
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Change in sexual drive
  • Mood changes like feeling sad, anxious, or listless, or becoming easily irritated or angry for little or no reason

A person with moderate or severe TBI may show the symptoms listed above, but may also have:

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to wake up from sleep
  • Dilation of one or both pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased confusion, restlessness or agitation

For more information on brain injury call our Toll-Free Helpline: 1-877-856-1772


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  2. Emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and
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