Traumatic Brain Injury

The Department of Rehabilitation serves Californians with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) directly through its TBI Program Sites and indirectly through the TBI Advisory Board as guided by the Program initiatives and State Plan.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury. This happens to about 1.7 million Americans each year. 53,000 deaths, 235,000 trips to the hospital, and 1.1 million trips to the ER each year are because of TBI. Traumatic brain injuries are separate from non-traumatic brain injuries (nTBI), which are caused by internal factors, such as lack of oxygen, exposure to toxins, pressure from a tumor, stroke, near drowning, or an infectious disease.

Common causes of TBI include car accidents, falls, assault, and sports injuries. Traumatic brain injury can be classified as mild (concussion), moderate, or severe, based on the patient’s clinical presentation, and the effects of TBI can be temporary or permanent. Those who survive a TBI can face effects that last a few days, or the rest of their lives. Effects of TBI can include impairments related to thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). These issues not only affect individuals but also can have lasting effects on families and communities.

Traumatic brain injury is unpredictable in its consequences and can affect who we are and the way we think, act, or feel. It can change everything about us in a matter of seconds. The most important things to remember are:

  • A person with a brain injury is a person first.
  • No two brain injuries are the same.
  • The effects of a brain injury are complex and depend on factors such as cause, location, and severity.

TBI Program