Brain Injuries and their Impact on Families


Every year an estimated 7,500 Tennesseans are admitted to the hospital for a traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is an injury to the brain caused by external physical force that can lead to partial or total disability, impairment and even death. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month.  

TBI facts

·         A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of acquired brain injury (ABI).

·         An acquired brain injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative or induced by birth trauma.

·         Every 9 seconds, a US resident sustains a brain injury.

·         More than 3.5 million children, teens and adults sustain an ABI every year.

·         One out of every 60 Americans live with a TBI-related disability.

Leading causes of traumatic brain injuries

1.       Falls – 40.5%

2.       Unknown/other – 19%

3.       Struck in head – 15.5%

4.       Motor vehicle traffic – 14.3%

5.       Assaults – 10.7%

There are an estimated 5.3 million Americans living with a TBI-related disability. They face a number of challenges as they try to return to a productive and fulfilling life. It’s also estimated that about 174,000 TBI injuries are sports and recreation related among children and adolescents. While there is a better awareness of short and long term consequences for athletes who suffer brain injuries, the number of participants in youth sporting programs is growing and the number of brain injuries is increasing as well.

Adolescents and adults who sustain a TBI are more at risk for increased re-injury, cognitive slowing, early onset Alzheimer's, second impact syndrome, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Athletes who participate in certain sports may face the risk of repetitive head injuries.  It may be up to their family physician or parents to protect their well-being.

The symptoms of TBIs range from subtle mood changes to obvious symptoms like the loss of consciousness. Symptoms can immediately follow an injury or occur several minutes later and can include;  

·         amnesia,

·         behavior or personality changes

·         confabulation, which is a memory error in which a person confuses imagined scenarios with actual memories 

·         delayed verbal and motor responses

·         disequilibrium, or loss of sense of balance

·         disorientation

·         emotional labiality, or rapid, often exaggerated changes in mood

·         loss of consciousness

·         slurred/incoherent speech, or a vacant stare.

Symptoms may also include;

·         blurry/double vision

·         confusion

·         dizziness

·         excessive drowsiness

·         sleep difficulties

·         feeling hazy

·         foggy or groggy

·         headache

·         inability to focus or concentrate

·         nausea

·         vomiting

My child has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Health experts have found that many children struggle with similar challenges and emotions after a TBI. These include;

·         Denial that the injury will have a long-term impact,

·         Grief over their loss of function and skill,

·         Changes in how they relate to others,

·         Frustration with the recovery process, and

·         Limited awareness of the differences in themselves.

Recovery is a gradual and challenging process with no clear endpoint. It varies depending on the injury and the child or teen. However, there is help and resources available to parents and families.


Traumatic Brain Injury Program

TN Dept. of Health

Family Health and Wellness, 8th fl. AJT

710 James Robertson Parkway

Nashville, TN  37243

(615) 741-1230

(800) 882-0611


Brain Injury Association of Tennessee

955 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206

(615)248-2541 Phone


Resources for Advocacy

Disability Rights Tennessee

2 International Plaza

Nashville, TN 37217

(800) 342-1660


A comprehensive resouce directory, The Traumatic Brain Injury Services Directory and Resource Guide is availabe here

To learn more about concussions and injury prevention, chek out this kidcentral tn article.  

To learn about Safe Stars, an initiative that recognizes youth sports leagues throughout Tennessee for providing the highest level of safety for their young athletes, click here.