Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the number of annual hospitalizations and overall episodes of care that involve a traumatic brain injury (TBI) by age and gender in the province of Ontario. To provide a more accurate assessment of the prevalence of TBI, episodes of care included visits to the emergency department (ED), as well as admissions to hospital. Mechanisms of injury for overall episodes were also investigated.
Methods: Traumatic brain injury cases from fiscal years 2002/03-2006/07 were identified by means of ICD-10 codes. Data were collected from the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System and the Discharge Abstract Database.
Results: The rate of hospitalization was highest for elderly persons over 75 years-of-age. Males generally had higher rates for both hospitalizations and episodes of care than did females. The inclusion of ED visits to hospitalizations had the greatest impact on the rates of TBI in the youngest age groups. Episodes of care for TBI were greatest in youth under the age of 14 and elderly over the age of 85. Falls (41.6%) and being struck by or against an object (31.1%) were the most frequent causes for a TBI.
Conclusions: The study provides estimates for TBI from the only Canadian province that has systematically captured ED visits in a national registry. It shows the importance of tracking ED visits, in addition to hospitalizations, to capture the burden of TBI on the health care system. Prevention strategies should include information on ED visits, particularly for those at younger ages.