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March 30, 2004

Traumatic Brain Injuries Are an Overlooked Public Health Issue

A minor car accident, a sports injury or even a fall on the sidewalk can cause a traumatic brain injury, an overlooked killer of Americans, according to injury prevention advocate Allan I. Bergman. At least 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year and 50,000 people die. Brain injuries are among the most likely types of injury to cause death or permanent disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The general public doesn’t know that a concussion is a brain injury. “We need to work harder to get people to understand this issue,” said Bergman, president and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America, during a March 29 presentation to faculty, staff and students at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Brain Injury Association of America is targeting children with campaigns to increase their knowledge of head injuries and the consequences. More children 14 years and younger die from unintentional injuries than from any other cause. A jolt or blow to the head can cause a mild concussion or change of consciousness. Traumatic brain injuries can result in short- and long-term disabilities.

Bergman told the audience that there hasn’t been a breakthrough in treatment for brain injuries in 15 years, highlighting the need to educate decision makers and raise public awareness about the preventability of these accidents. He called for additional funding and studies to address this silent epidemic.

Bergman’s presentation, “State of the Nation Regarding Traumatic Brain Injury: A 2004 Status Report on the ‘Silent’ Epidemic,” was part of the Graduate Seminar on Injury Research and Policy. The seminar was co-sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. --Kenna Brigham

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Brigham or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.