Study: significant increase in traumatic brain injury ER visits

Researchers suggest the increase is likely due to an increased awareness of TBI's seriousness and symptoms.
By Brooks Hays  |  May 13, 2014 at 5:03 PM
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PITTSBURGH, May 13 (UPI) -- Emergency rooms are seeing an increasing number of patients visiting due to traumatic brain injury.

According to new analysis by doctors and health researchers at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, there was a nearly 30 percent increase in the rate of TBI ER visits from 2006 to 2010.

In a study in published this week in the latest issue of JAMA, researchers suggest that the increase is likely due to an increased awareness of TBI's seriousness and symptoms -- not more people getting injured.

Increased awareness could translate to more people recognizing TBI symptoms and thus visiting the closest ER; it could also mean doctors are more aware and thus more likely to recognize and diagnose TBI.

Over the last decade, authorities at agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health have worked to raise awareness about the dangers of traumatic brain injuries and the need to curb TBI-inducing accidents. The CDC describes TBI as a serious public health concern.

The study was aided by data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) database.

Analysis suggests that the majority of the increase was the result of more ER patients arriving with symptoms of a concussion or an "unspecified head injury."

Researchers also pointed out that the a large portion of the increase in TBI ER visits are by young children and the elderly -- two groups not necessarily helped by TBI prevention methods like wearing bike helmets.

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