Brain injuries, and the possible long-term consequences of concussions and other blows to the head, have been discussed in the media a lot over the past few years. This conversation has led to greater awareness of the issue. More people now realize that traumatic brain injury can lead to serious disability, either now or down the road.

This public education could be behind the results of a study that found that the number of brain injury victims visiting the emergency room shot up in just a few years.

The study, which was published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the number of ER patients reporting brain trauma went up 29.1 percent in the U.S. between 2006 and 2010. During that time, the overall number of visits went up just 3.6 percent.

More serious types of head injuries seem to have especially caused the changes in the types of patients in the ER. The number of concussions went up 22 percent, while skull fractures rose nearly 8 percent.

Many readers are probably wondering at this point whether the figures are because more people are suffering head trauma. This could be true. Another possible explanation is that people are taking brain injuries more seriously than in the past. Some victims who might have been told to “shake it off” a few years ago now are being taken to the ER.

Since more and more evidence suggests that repeated concussions can lead to incurable conditions like CTE, this increased caution would be a positive trend, if it indeed is why there are more TBI patients going to the hospital.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Concussions, other brain injuries prompt more patients to visit the ER,” Karen Kaplan, May 13, 2014