Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBI Defined

A traumatic brain injury occurs when a blow or jolt of the head creates sudden damage to the brain. Traumatic brain injuries can vary from being mild concussions to more severe and permanent brain damage. The most common causes of a traumatic brain injury include falls and road injuries (auto, bicycle, pedestrian).

It is estimated that more than 69 million individuals throughout the world sustain a traumatic brain injury each year and that in the U.S., TBI is a contributing factor to a third of all injury-related U.S. deaths. Because of their increased likelihood of falling, children and older adults are most at risk of sustaining a TBI.

While treatment for mild TBI may include rest and medication, severe TBI may require intensive care and life-saving surgery. The effective treatment of TBI represents one of the largest unmet needs in public health. Major progress in understanding the pathophysiology of TBI is being done by the One Mind supported TRACK-TBI study that is working to confirm FDA-approved biomarkers that will enable researchers to more effectively match patients to clinical trials and ultimately, provide precise targets for the development of new therapies and devices to treat TBI.


Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain.

A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision or tired eyes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Behavioral or mood changes
  • Trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking

A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have:

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • An inability to awaken from sleep
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the extremities
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation


Those who survive a TBI may have to cope with effects that last anywhere from a few days to the rest of their lives. According to the NIH, though concussions are among the mildest forms of TBI, cumulative damage over time from concussions may be especially harmful. Scientists have observed that people who experience repetitive head trauma, such as in contact sports like football or hockey, are much more likely than those who do not incur such injuries to develop the degenerative brain disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

People suffering a TBI may also be at risk for developing post-traumatic stress.

If You Are In Crisis

Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency.

If you are thinking about harming yourself or thinking about suicide:

  • Tell someone who can help right away.
  • Call your licensed mental health professional if you are already working with one.
  • Call your doctor or health care provider.
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency department or call 911.

By the Numbers

5 million

Estimated number of Americans living with a long-term TBI-related disability


Increase in TBI-related E.R. visits, hospitalizations, and deaths from 2006 - 2014


Number of deaths that TBI contributed to in 2014


Share of TBI-related E.R. visits that were accounted for by falls in 2014


One Mind is forging a bright future for those who live with TBI.


The TRACK-TBI (Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in TBI) study and the TBI Endpoints Development (TED) Initiative aim to identify and confirm FDA-approved diagnostic and prognostic markers that will lead to successful clinical treatment trials for Traumatic Brain Injury.
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Rising Star Awards

These competitive grants fund pivotal, innovative research from the most promising leaders in neuropsychiatry, accelerating discoveries of the causes of and cures for brain illnesses and injuries.
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The Healthy Brains Global Initiative (HBGI) is a global effort to mobilize US$10 billion for brain health research that will ultimately benefit people living with neurological and mental health conditions.
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