March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, led by the Brain Injury Association of America. It is a good time to learn more about how much brain trauma affects our society.

According to the Brain Trauma Foundation (BTF), U.S. emergency rooms treat approximately 1.5 million head injuries each year. These TBIs are often fatal, with about 52,000 deaths due to brain trauma annually.

More often, the victim survives, but is left with long-term injury. BTF reports that at least 5.3 million Americans are living with a TBI-related disability. That would be around 2 percent of the population.

Even a relatively mild brain injury can have negative effects on the victim’s long-term health. A moderate head injury can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life 2.3 times. A severe TBI can raise the risk of Alzheimer’s 4.5 times.

Of course, many people living with a TBI sustained their injury in a war zone. It is believed that between 10 and 20 percent of Iraq War veterans have some level of brain trauma, and 30 percent of soldiers admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center have been diagnosed with a TBI.

As doctors develop better methods for preventing and treating brain trauma, victims must use current therapies and medicine to cope with their symptoms. This can quickly get expensive. People who negligently or purposely cause someone else a head injury should have to pay for the victim’s financial damages. These can include medical expenses, as well as previously lost income, and future lost income.