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Characteristics, Rates, and Risk Factors of Violence-Related Traumatic Brain Injury

Categories: Violence-Related Traumatic Brain Injury

The Question

What is the rate and risk factors for violence-related traumatic brain injuries? What are the characteristics of individuals who receive them?

Past Studies

Past Studies about violence-related traumatic brain injuries are scarce. Within the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems project, violence is recorded as the second leading cause of brain injury for study participants. It is a priority of the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems project to investigate violence as a cause of traumatic brain injury and its implications on treatment interventions, rehabilitation costs, and long-term outcomes.

This Study

This Study examined information about 1229 individuals who were hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries and received inpatient rehabilitation between the years 1990 and 2000. Reports were obtained from four of the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems centers. The researchers identified that 325 of the individuals had received violence-related traumatic brain injuries. The researchers state that 88% of the individuals with violence-related traumatic brain injuries were from large urban areas populated with a significantly higher number of individuals with lower income and less education, so the results of this study may not be generalizable to all areas of the country.

Individuals with violence-related traumatic brain injury appeared most often to be unmarried African-American males who were unemployed, in their late thirties, and had a prior history of brain injury. Individuals who were unemployed had a three times greater risk of receiving a violence-related brain injury. The authors suggest that these individuals may be leading non-traditional or risky lifestyles that make them more vulnerable to violence. A history of alcohol abuse was not found to be a significant risk factor, although the researchers caution that the rate of alcohol use may be underestimated in this study because 18% of the participants did not have records for drug testing. Information about illegal drugs was not contained in the database; and therefore, the researchers could not analyze it as a factor. After completing rehabilitation, and at one and two years after their injuries, those with violence-related traumatic brain injuries had higher levels of disability and need for caregiver assistance. They also had lower rates of employment and independent living in their communities.

Who May Be Affected By These Findings

Individuals with brain injuries, health care providers, prevention specialists, and researchers

Caveats

The information from the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems data base indicated that violence-related traumatic brain injury rates were highest in the years 1991 and 1992 and have steadily decreased since then.

Bottom Line

Twenty-six percent of the individuals in this study sustained a violence-related traumatic brain injury. Individuals with violence-related traumatic brain injury were most often unmarried African-American males who were unemployed, in their late thirties, and had a prior history brain injury. Significantly, individuals who were unemployed had a three times greater risk of receiving a violence-related brain injury.

 

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Find This Study

Hanks, R. A., Wood, D. L., Millis, S., Harrison-Felix, C., Pierce, C. A., Rosenthal, M., Bushnik, T., High, W. M., & Kreutzer, J. (2003). Violent traumatic brain injury: Occurrence, patient characteristics, and risk factors from the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Project. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 84, 249-254.

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