Changing patterns in the epidemiology of traumatic brain injury

Nat Rev Neurol. 2013 Apr;9(4):231-6. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2013.22. Epub 2013 Feb 26.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a critical public health and socio-economic problem throughout the world. Reliable quantification of the burden caused by TBI is difficult owing to inadequate standardization and incomplete capture of data on the incidence and outcome of brain injury, with variability in the definition of TBI being partly to blame. Reports show changes in epidemiological patterns of TBI: the median age of individuals who experience TBI is increasing, and falls have now surpassed road traffic incidents as the leading cause of this injury. Despite claims to the contrary, no clear decrease in TBI-related mortality or improvement of overall outcome has been observed over the past two decades. In this Perspectives article, we discuss the strengths and limitations of epidemiological studies, address the variability in its definition, and highlight changing epidemiological patterns. Taken together, these analyses identify a great need for standardized epidemiological monitoring in TBI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Brain Injuries / etiology
  • Brain Injuries / mortality
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence