Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

“Let’s just say that life after my husband’s brain injury turned out very differently than we expected. We don’t have a husband or father who works full-time and understands all of life’s complex decisions, but we’ve made adjustments and learned how to cope.”

A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury (1).

Every day in Utah, 54 people are treated and released from an emergency room due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Another eight are hospitalized or die each day from a TBI. In 2011,

  • 2,294 Utahns were hospitalized for a TBI
  • 550 Utahns died from a TBI
  • Of the 550 deaths, 429 occurred prior to hospital admission
  • Males have a higher rate of TBI hospitalizations and deaths than females for all age groups

Traumatic brain injuries can have a dramatic impact on a person’s ability to lead an active, fulfilling life. TBIs can affect an individual’s ability to work, as well as his or her short- and long-term memory, vision, sleep, mood, and movement.

Causes of TBI in Utah

The top three causes of TBI hospitalizations and deaths in Utah in 2011 were:

Signs and Symptoms of a TBI

Some signs of a TBI may include:

  • Headache or neck pain that won’t go away
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of energy/tired
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of balance
  • “Hurt” by loud noises or bright lights

Some changes in behavior from a TBI may include:

  • Easily irritated; aggressive
  • Mood changes: feeling sad, anxious
  • Not interested in things that used to be enjoyed
  • Confused, get lost easily
  • Slow in thinking, speaking, or reading
  • Hard time getting organized
  • Hard time making decisions and solving problems
  • Hard time paying attention
  • Forgetting things that happened a few minutes or days ago

TBI Database

Since 1990, the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program has collected data on TBI in Utah through review of hospital discharge data, death certificates, and hospital records. TBIs are included in the database when they result in hospitalization or death with one or more of the following:

  • Observed or self-reported unconsciousness or decreased level of consciousness;
  • Amnesia;
  • Skull fracture;
  • Changes in motor function, sensory function, reflexes, or speech; or
  • Seizures; hemorrhages, bruising, or other trauma to the brain.


  1. CDC Traumatic Brain Injury