Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Center for Brain Injury and Repair

Header Image

Traumatic Brain Injury: A "silent epidemic"

The devastating impact that traumatic brain injury (TBI) has on society is most dramatically revealed through numbers. Each year, an estimated 2 million Americans suffer some form of traumatic brain injury. Even more alarming, it is the leading cause of death and disability in persons under 45 years old, occurring more frequently than breast cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury combined. Other equally revealing statistics:

  • Brain injury is suffered by someone in America, usually a young person, every 15 seconds
  • Each year, approximately 100,000 people die from TBI and 500,000 more are permanently disabled
  • 80,000 people experience the onset of long-term disability following a severe brain injury annually
  • Approximately 5.3 million Americans - more than 2% of the US population - are living with a disability that results from TBI
  • The cost of treating, rehabilitating and caring for the victims of traumatic brain injury costs the U.S. approximately $30 billion each year

traumatic brain injury graph

Despite its pervasiveness, TBI remains, for the most part, a "silent" epidemic. According to a recent national survey, only 1 in 3 Americans are familiar with the term "brain injury." And rarely do people associate TBI with the most common form of injury - concussions.