Trends in incidence and severity of sports-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the emergency department, 2006-2011

Brain Inj. 2015;29(7-8):989-92. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2015.1033014. Epub 2015 May 12.


Objective: To characterize and identify trends in sports-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) emergency department (ED) visits from 2006-2011.

Methods: This study reviewed data on sports-related TBI among individuals under age 65 from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample from 2006-2011. Visits were stratified by age, sex, injury severity, payer status and other criteria. Variations in incidence and severity were examined both between groups and over time. Odds of inpatient admission were calculated using regression modelling.

Results: Over the period examined, 489 572 sports-related TBI ED visits were reported. The majority (62.2%) of these visits occurred among males under the age of 18. The average head Abbreviated Injury Severity score among these individuals was 1.93 (95% CI = 1.93-1.94) and tended to be lowest among those in middle school and high school age groups; these were also less likely to be admitted. The absolute annual number of visits grew 65.9% from 2006 until 2011, with the majority of this growth occurring among children under age 15. Hospitalization rates dropped 35.6% over the same period.

Conclusion: Changes in year-over-year presentation rates vs. hospitalization rates among young athletes suggest that players, coaches and parents may be more aware of sports-related TBI and have developed lower thresholds for seeking medical attention.

Keywords: Emergency department; TBI; epidemiology; sport.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / trends
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology