Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a blow or jolt to the head resulting in the disruption of normal brain function and frequently associated with decreased level of consciousness, amnesia, neuropsychological abnormality, skull fracture, intracranial lesions or death.

Did You Know?

  • Of the 1.7 million U.S. civilians who sustain a TBI, 52 thousand die, 275 thousand are hospitalized, and 1.4 million are treated and released from emergency rooms. The number of people with TBI who are not seen post-injury, or who receive no care, is unknown (1).
  • Falls, motor vehicle-traffic accidents, and violence are the leading causes of TBI among civilians. Blasts are the leading cause among active duty military personnel in war zones; it is estimated that up to one-third of patients evacuated from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom combat areas may have TBI (2).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have estimated that at least 3.2 million people currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help in performing certain activities of daily living as a result of having received a TBI (3).
  • Costs associated with TBI are staggering at over $60 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

What is Idaho Doing for People with a TBI?

  • Passage of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act signaled a national recognition of the need to improve state TBI service systems, and Congress authorized HRSA/MCH to establish a program of grants to States for the purpose of carrying out demonstration projects to improve access to health and other services for the assessment and treatment of TBI.
  • The Institute of Rural Health at Idaho State University has been funded since 2001 under the Traumatic Brain injury Act of 2008 State Grant Program to develop and promote services for people with TBI.
  • Idaho has a TBI ombudsman, a person who person who acts as an intermediary for persons with a TBI. The ombudsman can be reached via email at
  • The enactment of a TBI Trust Fund for Idaho is an anticipated future step toward assisting Idahoans with TBI to regain life quality through increased access to services and supports.
    How Can I Help?
  • Volunteer your skills to help someone with a TBI. Contact the Institute of Rural Health at Idaho State University to find out how.

What is the Prevalence of TBI in Idaho?

Using CDC prevalence rates, an estimated 16,800-35,000 Idahoans are living with a severe TBI.

  • As a rural state, Idahoans are at higher risk for TBI compared to other populations by way of limited access to, and availability of, health care.
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) statistics indicate that 98% of Idaho’s counties are designated as Health Professional Shortage and Mental Health Professional Shortage areas (4).
  • Idahoans have a significant number of active-duty service personnel deployed to and returning from duty in Iraq. The numbers of service personnel returning to Idaho with a TBI are unknown.
  • Trauma Registry data reveal that in Idaho, the most common type of brain injury is to the cerebrum, which is responsible for language, learning and memory, and movement.
  • After an acute hospital stay of 3-4 days (on average), only 40% of Idaho patients with a TBI are discharged home. Nearly one-third cannot go home and are discharged to intermediate care, skilled nursing, or prescribed home health. Eighteen percent die (5).
  • In Idaho about 35% of accidental deaths are TBI-related (6).
  • Idaho data suggest that among people who die in motor vehicle accidents or accidental falls, nearly half have a TBI-related death.
  • In nearly 40% of Idaho children and 35% of Idaho elderly who died from accidental causes, TBI was involved.
  • In Idaho, TBI affects all people, crossing age groups, gender, and racial/ethnic categories.

Are Idahoans with TBI in Need of Services & Support?

  • In a study of 250 Idahoans with a TBI, conducted by the Institute of Rural Health at Idaho State University, almost half (42%) of respondents had an annual household income of less than $7,500 per year; substantially below Federal poverty guidelines.
  • Further, quality of life was perceived to be significantly lower after the TBI than before (7).


  1. Center for Disease Control, Retrieved September 10, 2010.
  2. Kennedy JE, Jaffee MS, Leskin GA, Stokes JW, Leal FO, Fitzpatrick PJ (2007). Posttraumatic stress disorder-like symptoms and mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of Rehabilitation & Development, 44:895-920.
  3. Selassie AW, Zaloshnja E, Langlois JA, Miller T, Jones P, Steiner C (2008). Incidence of long-term disability following traumatic brain injury hospitalization, United States, 2003. Journal of Head Trauma and Rehabilitation, 23: 123-31.
  4. HRSA Professional Shortage Areas, Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  5. Idaho Trauma Registry (2009). Annual Report: Trauma in Idaho. Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Idaho Hospital Association.
  6. Department of Health and Welfare, Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics. TBI Death 2004-2008. Available upon request.
  7. Spearman RC, Stamm BH, Tivis LT (2007). Traumatic brain injury state planning grant: Preparing for change in a rural state. Brain Injury, 21:837-849.


What is a Concussion?

Concussions are the type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a blow or jolt to the head. An injury from a concussion can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way our brains normally work.

Did You Know?

  • You don’t have to lose consciousness to sustain a concussion.
  • Concussions are more prevalent than most people think and often times difficult to diagnose, as they typically do not appear in neuroimaging such as CT or MRI scans.
  • About one-and-a-half million people in the US suffer a concussion each year. The Centers for Disease Control estimates more that 20% of these injuries, or about 300,000, are sports related.
  • With each incidence, a person may be more susceptible to a more significant brain injury from even mild future hits or blows to the head.

What are the Symtoms of a Concussion?

Although you cannot see a concussion, you might notice some of the symptoms immediately. However, some symptoms can present themselves days or weeks after the initial injury. Symptoms can be obvious or very subtle. They can include:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Difficulty Remembering
  • Blurred Vision
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or Balance Problems
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to Light and Noise
  • Emotional Changes

More Information on Concussions

Idaho Law on Concussion