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Emergency Room Visits Due To Traumatic Brain Injury On The Rise

Between 2006 and 2010, the number of emergency department visits for traumatic brain injury (TBI) rose by nearly 30 percent throughout the United States. That’s according to a study from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

While there was an increase, researchers are unclear of exactly why.

“There’s multiple things that could contribute to why we saw that increase,” said Jennifer Marin, M.D., M.Sc., an emergency medicine physician at Children’s. “One could certainly be that people are just more aware of it and so any time a patient sustains any sort of a head injury or head trauma they seek medical care.”

Other factors could include people being more active and playing more sports or have increased risk for head injuries, so Marin said it could simply be that there were more head injuries during the time period examined.

The results were compiled using data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample database which includes information on 25 million to 50 million visits from more than 950 hospitals each year. While the increase was the across the board, Marin said children younger than three years and adult older than 60 years had the largest increase in TBI rates. These findings could help in the prevention of future injuries.

“Evaluating these trends and realizing that there’s been this increase just begs the question, ‘what more can we do?’” said Marin. I think there’s been a lot that’s been done in the last decade in terms of awareness and preventive strategies – concussion laws, helmet laws etcetera, but is there more that we need to do?”

Results of the study are published in the recent issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.