The results of a recent study published in JAMA show that between 2006 and 2010, there was an almost 30% increase in the rate  of visits to an emergency department for traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can be attributed to factors such as increased awareness and diagnoses. According to a Science Daily news release, Jennifer R. Marin, MD, MSc, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues used data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) database to determine national trends in emergency department (ED) visits for TBI from 2006 through 2010.

NEDS is a nationally representative data source including 25 million to 50 million visits from more than 950 hospitals annually, representing a 20% stratified sample of EDs. The research team found that in 2010 there were an estimated 2.5 million ED visits for TBI, representing a 29% increase in the rate of visits for TBI during the study period. By comparison, total ED visits increased by 3.6%. The Science Daily news release notes that the majority of the increase in the incidence of TBI occurred in visits coded as concussion or unspecified head injury.

In addition, the results of the study revealed that children younger than 3 years and adults older than 60 years had the largest increase in TBI rates, as noted on the Science Daily news release. The majority of visits were for minor injuries and most patients were discharged from the ED. The authors write that the increase in TBI among the very young and older adults may indicate that these age groups don’t benefit as much from public health interventions, such as safer sports practices.

Sources: Science Daily, JAMA