Traumatic Brain Injury

“Let’s just say that life after my husband’s brain injury turned out very differently than we expected. We don’t have a husband or father who works full-time and understands all of life’s complex decisions, but we’ve made adjustments and learned how to cope.”

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury1.

Traumatic brain injuries can have a dramatic impact on a person’s ability to lead an active, fulfilling life. TBIs can affect an individual’s ability to work, as well as his or her short- and long-term memory, vision, sleep, mood, and movement.

Utah Stats

  • Every day in Utah, 25 people are treated and released from an emergency room due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Another six are hospitalized and one person dies each day from a TBI.2
  • Approximately one out of every 14 Utah households has an individual who sustained a TBI.3
  • In one year, 6,228 Utahns were treated for a concussion.4
  • Of these, 41.7% were due to sports/recreation activities, 25.7% of those were among teens ages 15-19 and 22.6% were among children ages 10-14.4
  • Three students suffer a concussion every day at school.5

Causes of TBI in Utah

The leading causes of TBI hospitalizations and deaths in Utah in 2017-2018 were:

Signs and Symptoms of a TBI

Some signs of a TBI may include:

  • Headache or neck pain that won’t go away
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of energy/tired
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of balance
  • “Hurt” by loud noises or bright lights

Some changes in behavior from a TBI may include:

  • Easily irritated; aggressive
  • Mood changes: feeling sad, anxious
  • Not interested in things that used to be enjoyed
  • Confused, get lost easily
  • Slow in thinking, speaking, or reading
  • Hard time getting organized
  • Hard time making decisions and solving problems
  • Hard time paying attention
  • Forgetting things that happened a few minutes or days ago

Ways to Prevent a TBI

  • Always wear a helmet during sports, bike riding, horse riding, etc.
  • Encourage family, friends and community members to wear helmets.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a vehicle.
  • Increase in seat belt usage through policies, laws, or education.
  • Decrease in driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs through policies, laws, or education.
  • Support falls prevention initiatives.
  • Support school policies that protect athletes “return to play.”
  • Increase education on concussion prevention.

TBI Database

Since 1990, the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program has collected data on TBI in Utah through review of hospital discharge data, death certificates, and hospital records. TBIs are included in the database when they result in hospitalization or death with one or more of the following:

  • Observed or self-reported unconsciousness or decreased level of consciousness;
  • Amnesia;
  • Skull fracture;
  • Changes in motor function, sensory function, reflexes, or speech; or
  • Seizures; hemorrhages, bruising, or other trauma to the brain.

For questions about TBI contact: 

Traci Barney
Violence and Injury Prevention Program
Utah Department of Health
288 North 1460 West
PO Box 142106
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-2106
(385) 260-4525


  1. CDC Traumatic Brain Injury
  2. Utah Department of Health. Public Health Indicator Based Information System (IBIS). Health Indicator Report of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Accessed 5/17/2021: /
  3. Utah Department of Health, Violence and Injury Prevention Program, Traumatic Brain Injury Surveillance Program.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Report to Congress on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States: Steps to prevent a serious public health problem. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003.
  5. Utah Department of Health. Student Injury Reporting System. Access: