This Week’s Report: “Traumatic Brain Injury”

Every year, about 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Direct blows to the head from falls, car and motorcycle crashes, assaults and football-field hits cause many of the injuries.  And over the past decade, some 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered TBIs, many of them caused by roadside bombs.

As veteran science writer Marcia Clemmitt notes in this week’s report, doctors and scientists are making slow but significant progress in diagnosing and treating TBIs, which can lead to dementia, depression and even suicide. But the hurdles are high. Effective rehabilitation is the single most promising path to recovery from a TBI, Clemmitt writes. Yet access to care and the high cost of rehabilitative treatment – as much as $8,000 per day in a hospital and $2,500 daily for outpatient therapy – remain the biggest obstacles.

Enhancing Clemmitt’s report are a pro/con debate on motorcycle helmet laws and two sidebars, on the anatomy of TBIs and cutting-edge brain-injury research. Students and faculty in a wide range of fields, from medicine and sports administration to social science and health policy, will find this report important reading.

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor