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Understanding traumatic brain injury

May 12, 2014

Every day, 138 people in the United States die from traumas that include traumatic brain injury, or TBI. Ranging from a bump on the head to a severe, life-long disability, TBI is an often overlooked but increasingly significant cause of hospitalization and death around the globe. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, TBI will be the third-leading cause of death and disability for all ages worldwide, and more than 5.3 million Americans are already living with a TBI-related disability.

Yet, the ways in which TBI causes both short and long term damage—and the ways it can be treated—remain largely mysterious to both scientists and clinicians.

In November 2013, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation made a significant step toward understanding what happens in TBI, with a $2.37 million grant to Seattle-area researchers. The grant, awarded over two years to scientists at the University of Washington and the Allen Institute for Brain Science, will enable scientists to better understand what happens to the brain in TBI and how the trauma can give rise to other disorders and complications.

Football concussions often receive the brunt of the attention on TBI in the public sphere, but TBI is a wide-ranging issue impacting people of every age and demographic. More than 40 percent of TBI cases are due to a fall, mostly in children under 14 and adults over 65, and soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq are a newly significant group facing both TBI and PTSD.

The research funded by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation seeks to help all these groups by better understanding the phenomenon of TBI, and hopefully uncovering ways in which the trauma can be better handled in the future.

For more information on the donation from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, see our press release.

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