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TBI in Emergency Departments a Substantial Economic Burden TBI in Emergency Departments a Substantial Economic Burden

A new study that looked at nearly 134,000 emergency department visits for traumatic brain injury, including concussion, during a one year period in Ontario estimated that those visits had a total cost of $945 million over the lifetimes of those patients.

Medical treatments accounted for $292 million (31 per cent) of the estimated lifetime costs, and lost productivity amounted to $653 million (69 per cent), according to the report, published online in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Science.

Policy makers are increasingly using cost-of-illness studies such as this one to guide resource allocation and identify opportunities for improving health-care sustainability, said Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital and a senior author of the study.

“Traumatic brain injuries are occurring at alarmingly high rates and have the potential for long-term disability, so it’s important to understand how best to prevent them using available resources,” he said. “Determining the patterns, causes, effects, and costs of TBI-related emergency department visits is one way to do that.”

Looking at data from 2009, researchers found there were 133,952 TBI-related visits to Ontario EDs that year. They were also able to break these visits down into demographic groups.

Young children and the elderly had the highest rates of TBI-related ED visits compared with those aged five to 65, according to the authors.

The rate of TBI-related ED visits was higher for men than women across all age groups younger than 65, according to the authors. This gender difference was particularly evident within the 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 age categories, in which men were twice as likely as women to go to an ED with a TBI.

Costs were greater for men than women across nearly all age groups, with men incurring double the costs overall. This finding is consistent with the fact that men suffer a higher rate of fatal injury and earn a higher income on average, compared with women, according to the report. One exception was the over 85 years category, in which costs were 56 per cent higher for females than males. Women live longer than men on average; therefore women are more likely to sustain a TBI because they are overrepresented in the over 85 age range, according to the authors.

Falls were the cause of almost half (47 per cent) of TBIs in the year studied. The highest rate of falls occurred among children under four and the elderly (age 75 years and older), who together were six times more likely to sustain a fall-related TBI compared with other age groups.

Other common causes of TBI were struck by/against injuries, in which TBI was sustained when a person was struck by or struck against another person or an object (37 per cent), motor vehicle crashes (10 per cent) and sports- and bicycle-related accidents (combined 12 per cent).

The highest rates of motor vehicle crash-related TBI occurred among adolescents and young adults. Although they accounted for only 10 per cent of TBIs, they accounted for more than 17 per cent of total costs. This disproportionately large cost reflects the long-term disabilities resulting from the original injury resulting from motor vehicle accidents and the increased likelihood of younger age groups being affected by motor vehicle crashes, resulting in high lifetime medical and lost productivity costs, the authors wrote.

The findings underscore the importance of ongoing surveillance and prevention efforts targeted to vulnerable populations, said Terence Fu, a medical student at St. Michael’s and an author on the study.

“An emphasis on efforts such as falls prevention among the elderly, motor vehicle accident prevention among young adults, and sports-related TBI prevention among youth, could help decrease the incidence and economic burden of these injuries,” he said.

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BIAA Submits Testimony for TBI Funding

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has submitted written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies calling for increased fiscal year 2018 appropriations for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Act programs, including the state grant program, and for TBI Model Systems research funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

BIAA is also working with the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force (CBITF) Co-chairs to obtain support from Congressional members for increased funding. Individuals who are attending Brain Injury Awareness Day can download a copy of the CBITF letter to give to their Representatives during their office visits that day. If you are not able to attend, click here to download a sample letter you can send to your representative.

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Brain Injury Association of America Announces Awareness Month, Capitol Day in Washington, D.C.

Every March, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) leads the nation in recognizing Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time to acknowledge and support the millions of Americans impacted by brain injury. The theme for the 2015-2017 awareness campaign is Not Alone.

More than 2.5 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the United States every year, and an additional 1 million face the effects of non-traumatic brain injuries, like stroke. Estimates indicate that 5.3 million Americans live with brain injury-related disabilities at a cost exceeding $82 billion annually.

“People living with brain injuries want the same things we all want – a good job, someone to love, a comfortable home, and fun in their lives,” commented Susan H. Connors, President and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America. “They want to be defined by who they are as people, not by their injuries.”

The Not Alone campaign provides a platform for educating the general public about the incidence of brain injury and the needs of people with brain injuries and their families. The campaign also lends itself to outreach to de-stigmatize the injury, empower those who have survived, and promote the many types of support that are available. Information on Brain Injury Awareness Month, including educational material and downloadable collateral, is available at biausa.org/NotAlone.

The Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, co-chaired by Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), has designated March 22, 2017, as Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill. This day provides an opportunity for advocates from around the country to network and discuss key issues surrounding brain injury. Additional information can be found at biausa.org/Awareness2017.

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