A concerted effort to tackle the global health problem posed by traumatic brain injury (TBI) is long overdue. TBI is a public health challenge of vast, but insufficiently recognised, proportions. Worldwide, more than 50 million people have a TBI each year, and it is estimated that about half the world’s population will have one or more TBIs over their lifetime. TBI is the leading cause of mortality in young adults and a major cause of death and disability across all ages in all countries, with a disproportionate burden of disability and death occurring in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). It has been estimated that TBI costs the global economy approximately $US400 billion annually. Deficiencies in prevention, care, and research urgently need to be addressed to reduce the huge burden and societal costs of TBI. This Commission highlights priorities and provides expert recommendations for all stakeholders— policy makers, funders, health-care professionals, researchers, and patient representatives—on clinical and research strategies to reduce this growing public health problem and improve the lives of people with TBI.
The epidemiology of TBI is changing: in high-income countries, the number of elderly people with TBI is increasing, mainly due to falls, while in LMICs, the burden of TBI from road traffic incidents is increasing. Data on the frequency of TBI and TBI-related deaths and on the economic impact of brain trauma are often incomplete and vary between countries. Improved, accurate epidemiological monitoring and robust health-economic data collection are needed to inform healthcare policy and prevention programmes. Highly developed and coordinated systems of care are crucial for management of patients with TBI. However, in practice, implementation of such frameworks varies greatly and disconnects exist in the chain of care. Optimisation of systems of care should be high on the policy agenda and could yield substantial gains in terms of both patient
outcomes and costs to society.