According to a new medical report, visits to hospital emergency rooms for brain injuries have increased in recent years.
The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, studied emergency department visits from a nationwide sample of hospitals from 2006 to 2010. During that period, the number of total emergency room visits grew by 3.6 percent, but the number of people seeking help for traumatic brain injuries increased by 29.1 percent.
Researchers postulated that a number of factors could be involved in the increase. It is possible that there has been an actual increase in the number of traumatic brain injuries suffered by Americans; it is also possible that more people have learned that concussions and other brain injuries need to be taken seriously, prompting them to visit emergency rooms when such injuries occur.
The study accounted for several types of traumatic brain injury. The incidence of concussions grew by 22 percent. Unspecified head injuries saw a 38 percent increase, and the number of skull fractures grew by 8 percent.
There was a slight increase in the proportion of brain injuries designated as “minor” (from 85.4 percent in 2006 to 87.3 percent in 2010). The proportion of “routine discharges” of patients after an emergency room visit also increased slightly (from 75.2 percent to 81.3 percent over the same time period).