Each year traumatic brain injury disables 80,000 to 90,000 people in the United States. 6 Groups with the highest risk factors for traumatic brain injury include:

  • Seniors have increasing numbers of traumatic brain injury due to falls
  • Males (about 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a brain injury)
  • Young children or teenagers (especially infants to 4-year-olds and 15–19-year-olds)
  • Engaging in high risk work or recreation activities
  • Operators of motor vehicles

Spinal Cord Injury Information


  • Nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. live with a disability related to a spinal cord injury (SCI) (Berkowitz, 1998).
  • Approximately 11,000 Americans sustain an SCI each year (CDC unpublished data).
  • The leading cause of SCI varies by age. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause among persons under age 65. Among persons age 65 and older, falls cause most SCIs (CDC unpublished data).
  • Sports and recreation activities cause an estimated 18% of SCI cases (Berkowitz, 1998).


Secondary conditions are a major health issue for people living with SCI. Secondary conditions are negative health outcomes that occur as a direct result of a SCI-related disability. The most common secondary conditions are pressure sores, respiratory complications, urinary tract infections, spasticity, and scoliosis (McKinley, 1999; Meyers, 2000).

Groups at Risk

  • Males are more likely than females to sustain an SCI.
  • More than half of the people who sustain SCIs are 15 to 29 years old (CDC unpublished data).

Groups at Risk For Secondary Conditions

Some studies suggest that smoking, poor nutrition, and lack of transportation are risk factors for secondary conditions associated with SCI (Meyers 2000). However, more research is needed in this area. This section was developed for public health professionals and practitioners in spinal cord injury (SCI) prevention and treatment. Public health strategies to prevent SCI (adapted from CDC, Report and Recommendations to the Advisory Committee for Injury Prevention and Control on the Interagency Meeting on Spinal Cord Injury, unpublished to date) include :

  • Implementing programs that reduce or eliminate behavioral and environmental risk factors, and provide behavioral and environmental protective factors;
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of current community-based intervention programs and sharing lessons learned;
  • Engaging the general public, policy makers, and healthcare practitioners in prevention programs;

Continuing to support collaborative prevention efforts in areas such as transportation, falls, and firearms


  1. Brain Injury Association of America. Causes of Acquired Brain Injury. Available at: http://www.biausa.org.
  2. Brain Injury Association of America. Facts about Traumatic Brain Injury. Available at: http://www.biausa.org.
  3. Brain Injury Association of America. Types of Brain Injury. Available at: http://www.biausa.org.
  4. DC: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi/TBI.htm
  5. Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). Unpublished. Washington (DC): U.S. Department of Defense; 2005.
  6. Langlois, J.A., Rutland-Brown, W., Thomas, K.E. (2006). Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
  7. Thurman, D.J., Alverson, C., Dunn, K.A., Guerrero, J., Sniezek, J.E. (1999). Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: A Public Health Perspective. J Head Trauma Rehabil. 14(6), pp. 602-615.
  8. Ivins, B.J., Schwab, K., Warden, D., Harvey, S., Hoilien, M., Powell, J., et al. (2003). Traumatic brain injury in U.S. army paratroopers: prevalence and character. Journal of Trauma Injury, Infection and Critical Care 55(4), pp.617-621.
  9. Neurology Channel. Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis. Available at: http://www.neurologychannel.com. Accessed 07/23/08.