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Americans Suffering More Concussions, Brain Injuries


The number of Louisiana residents and other Americans seeking treatment for brain injury grew by about 30 percent between 2006 and 2010. That number is disconcerting, according to experts, because nationwide visits to the emergency room only grew by about 3.6 percent. Concussions and other brain injuries appear to be a major growth industry for emergency departments throughout the country. Researchers have yet to pin down a single cause.

Studies show that the incidence of concussion grew by about 22 percent, while unspecified head injuries increased in frequency by 38 percent. There was also an 8 percent increase in the number of skull fractures that occurred. Still, the majority of brain injuries are classified as "minor," with about four in five patients receiving a routine discharge after an ER visit.

The newly released data could indicate that Americans are, in fact, suffering more extensive head injuries than they had in the past. However, researchers say that the numbers could simply be an artifact attributable to the fact that more Americans are seeking treatment for minor brain injuries. It is possible that both of these factors may be contributing to the rash of brain injuries that has occurred in recent years.

The largest growth in brain injury visits came from children under age 3 and adults older than 60, according to the report. Experts say it is possible that those victims are not as easily protected by public health interventions designed to improve helmet use and increase safety in sports practice. Instead, they may suffer head injury in car accidents and other traumatic incidents. Victims of all ages may be entitled to accident compensation if they suffer a traumatic brain injury because of someone else's negligence.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Concussions, other brain injuries prompt more patients to visit the ER" Karen Kaplan, May. 13, 2014

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