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Hospitalization for Serious Head Injuries Rising Again

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: March 21, 2007

Hospital admissions for the most serious category of head injury—Type 1 traumatic brain injuries—increased nearly 38 percent between 2001 and 2004, after a decade of decline, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Traumatic brain injury occurs when the head suddenly and violently hits an object or when something pierces the skull and enters the brain. Although some injuries may result in a brief change of mental state or consciousness, others produce extended periods of unconsciousness, coma, or even death.

  • In 2004, there were nearly 204,000 hospitalizations for traumatic brain injuries at a cost of $3.2 billion, and 7 of 10 of these involved patients with a Type 1 brain injury. Inpatient hospital care for these patients totaled $2.7 billion.
  • Forty percent of patients with Type 1 injuries were caused by falls, including those down stairways, off ladders, or on ice. Other common reasons for Type 1 brain injury hospitalizations included motor vehicle accidents (26 percent), being hit while playing sports or having a falling object hit the head (8 percent), bicycle or other transportation accidents (4 percent), and shootings (2 percent).
  • People ages 65 years and older accounted for nearly 36 percent of hospitalizations for Type 1 brain injuries, followed by people ages 18 to 44 years (about 31 percent). People ages 45 to 64 years comprised 19 percent of the cases, while adolescents and children accounted for 15 percent.
  • About 13 percent of Type 1 brain injury patients died while hospitalized and nearly 28 percent were transferred to a nursing home or other type of rehabilitation facility. By comparison, less than 1 percent of other head injury patients died while hospitalized and about 8 percent were discharged to a nursing home or other type of rehabilitation facility.

This AHRQ News & Numbers summary is based on data in Hospital Admissions for Traumatic Brain Injuries, 2004. The report uses statistics from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For more information, or to speak to an AHRQ data expert, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of March 2007


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