A TBI is caused by an external force that injures the brain. It can occur when a person’s head is hit, bumped, or jolted. It also can occur when an object, such as a bullet, pierces the skull, or when the body is shaken or hit hard enough to cause the brain to slam into the skull. The leading causes of TBI are falls, motor vehicle crashes and traffic-related incidents, collisions with an object, and assaults.1 Half of TBI incidents involve alcohol use.2
Sports and recreational activities are also a significant cause of TBI, especially among young people. The activities associated with the greatest number of emergency department visits for TBI include bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer.3
In the military, the leading causes of TBI are bullets, fragments, blasts, falls, motor vehicle crashes, and assaults.4
Some causes of TBI are avoidable. The list below offers some ways to help prevent TBI.
Another preventable cause of TBI is shaken baby syndrome (SBS). The syndrome can occur when an infant is shaken violently or hit. Nearly all victims of SBS suffer serious health consequences, and at least one of every four babies who are violently shaken dies. Preventing SBS involves helping people understand the dangers of shaking a baby, the risk factors and the triggers for SBS, and how to support overstressed parents and caregivers.6 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers additional information on SBS.
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