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Violence-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries in Colorado

Categories: Violence-Related Traumatic Brain Injury

The Question

What are the characteristics and outcomes of individuals with violence-related traumatic brain injuries in Colorado?

Past Studies

Past Studies have determined that violence and traumatic brain injury are top public health concerns. Traumatic brain injuries can occur from acts of physical violence, such as directly hitting the head with a fist or object, slamming the head into a hard surface, and gunshot wounds. Past studies suggest that individuals who receive violence-related traumatic brain injuries are most frequently unemployed males identified as belonging to an ethnic minority. These males are also most likely to be young, less educated, living alone in a low-income area, and have a history of substance abuse. Some studies have shown that individuals with violence-related and nonviolence related traumatic brain injuries experience about the same types of recoveries. Past researchers have limited the focus of their studies to the different types of violence-related injuries or to a specific group, such as individuals in domestic violence relationships. Past studies have not analyzed the population of a large demographic area, such as a state.

This Study

This study involved the medical record examination and telephone survey of 2,771 individuals who were hospitalized with traumatic brain injury in Colorado between January 1996 and June 1999. It had been at least one year since the time of their injury. The researchers examined the data to determine the rate, characteristics, and outcomes of individuals who received violence-related versus nonviolence-related traumatic brain injuries.

Violence was found to be the third leading cause of traumatic brain injury in Colorado. Individuals with traumatic brain injuries from violence accounted for 6.2% of all traumatic brain injury survivors; however, individuals with severe gunshot wounds to the head who did not survive their injuries were not included in this study. Otherwise, injury severity levels were similar for individuals with and without violence-related injuries. Of the violence-related traumatic brain injuries, 7.9% resulted from self-inflicted violence and 91.1% were caused by the violent acts of others. Gunshot wounds caused all of the self-inflicted injuries. The weapons or physical assault method used by others during a violent act included: firearms- 5%; knives, sharp or blunt objects- 48%, and physical assault or pushing a person off of a high place- 47%.

Compared with all individuals with traumatic brain injuries, individuals with violence-related traumatic brain injuries were 2 times more likely to be male, three times more likely to be a member of a minority group, three times more likely to be unmarried, and more than twice as likely to abuse alcohol. At a year from their injury dates, individuals with violence-related traumatic brain injuries had lower rates of socialization and earned incomes. They also reported that they experienced more headaches, confusion, difficulties paying attention, and visual problems.

Who May Be Affected By These Findings

Individuals with traumatic brain injury, health care providers, researchers, prevention specialists

Caveats

The researchers found that the individuals with violence-related traumatic brain injuries in this study had about the same characteristics as individuals who have received violence-related spinal cord injuries, as indicated by previous research.

Bottom Line

Individuals with violence-related traumatic brain injuries in Colorado were more likely to be male, a member of a minority group, unmarried, and have a history of alcohol abuse. At a year from their injury dates, they had lower rates of socialization and earned incomes. They also reported that they experienced more headaches, confusion, difficulties paying attention, and visual problems.

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Find This Study

Gerhart, K.A., Mellick, D.C., & Weintraub, A.H. (2003). Violence-related traumatic brain injury: A population-based study. Journal of Trauma Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, (55), 1045-1053.

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