Traumatic brain injuries affect persons of all ages in New Jersey, particularly
the young and the elderly. Overall, males aged 15-24 years, 75 years and
over, and residents of selected areas are at greatest risk of TBI-related
mortality and morbidity. Among the young, TBIs most often involve motor
vehicles, and assaults, while falls are the leading causes of TBIs among
the elderly and very young children. The hospitalized survivors outnumbered
decedents by 7:1 in 1997 compared to 9:1 in 1994. Some of the recent declines
in hospitalizations may be caused by shifts in medical treatment of more
mild TBIs to outpatient and emergency rooms. Despite declining number
of non-fatal hospitalizations, the number of persons who incur a TBI each
year remains large.
To improve efforts at prevention, the NJDOH will continue surveillance
of incidence, risk factors, causes and outcomes related to TBIs. Future
efforts may include studying the epidemiology and long term consequences
of TBI. The development of age-specific prevention strategies to address
the major causes of TBI - motor vehicles, falls, and violence - is essential.
Prevention of such injuries is likely to result in enormous savings in
terms of direct costs, long term care and rehabilitation as well as indirect
costs and human suffering.