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Common ways you may up end up with a traumatic brain injury

A traumatic brain injury is mild to severe damage to brain function. A TBI can lead to long-term effects such as memory impairment, mood swings and loss of coordination.

A TBI does not have to come from a traumatic event, such as war or gun violence. It can happen to anyone thanks to these common causes, according to the CDC.


The top cause is falling, making up almost half of all fall-related trips to the emergency room and more than half of all fall-related hospitalizations. Falls can happen from a height or even just from slipping or tripping on the ground. Children, seniors and construction workers are the most likely to fall. 

Car accidents

A TBI may not be what you first think of when it comes to injuries from a motor vehicle collision, but the risk is so high that car crashes are the second leading source of TBIs and the highest among those aged 15 to 44. The head often strikes surfaces within the vehicle, or objects in or outside the car hit or penetrate the head. Even if the head does not come into contact with anything, the brain can hit the skull due to whiplash, resulting in a concussion.

Traffic accidents also include those involving pedestrians and bicyclists, who are even more at risk from lacking the same protection as motorists.


You do not need to be in an auto accident for your head and an object to collide. For example, items from a store shelf may fall on top of you while shopping.


Sports such as football get the most attention for causing trauma to the head, but any activity that involves a hard ball or equipment, high speeds or lots of physical impact can also be responsible. Examples include the following activities:

  • Boxing
  • Skateboarding
  • Skiing
  • Surfing

While youth experience many TBIs due to their greater participation in sports, adults of all ages who engage in recreational activities can also sustain head trauma.

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