Costs and Prevention

Costs of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The economic consequences of TBI are enormous. It is estimated that the cost of acute care and rehabilitation for new cases of TBI was $9 to $10 billion in the US. The estimates for the average cost of care over a lifetime for a person with severe TBI raged from $600,000 to $1,875,000 (2). The direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 2000 (19). These figures are underestimates, since it is difficult to estimate the family and societal costs of TBI as well as lost earnings, cost to services systems and the lost time and wages of family members caring for their loved ones with a TBI (2).


Helmets, seat belts, airbags, and car seats have been proven to reduce TBI incidents and death (31). Brain injury is the leading cause of death in bicycle incidents. Between 70% and 80% of all fatal bicycle crashes involve brain injuries (29). If everyone wore a helmet when riding a bicycle, then one death every day could be prevented as well as one brain injury every four minutes (29). Wearing bicycle helmet regularity is the single most effective protection against brain injury (27). Every dollar spent on a bike helmet saves society $30 in direct medical costs and other costs to society (28). In addition to riding a bicycle, the proper use of a helmet when riding a scooter could reduce brain injuries by 85% (32).

Proper Helmet Usage for every time you ride a bicycle, scooter or in-line skates (28):

  • Wear a bicycle helmet that meets or exceeds the safety standards developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • A helmet should sit on top of your head in a level position, and it should not rock forward and backward or side to side.
  • The helmet straps must always be buckled but not too tightly.
  • Ensure proper bike fit by bringing the child along when shopping for a bike.
  • Buy a bicycle that is the right size for the child, not one he will grow into.
  • When sitting on the seat, the child’s feet should touch the ground.

An astounding 80 percent of police-reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to involved riders. Motorcycle rider fatalities have increased each year since reaching a historic low of 2,116 fatalities in 1997 to 4,008 in 2004, an increase of 89 percent (33).

Data for 2004 shows that motorcycle rider fatalities increased for every age group, with the largest number of fatalities in the 20-29 and the 40 and over age groups. About two-thirds of the fatally injured motorcycle riders were not wearing helmets in States without universal helmet laws compared to 15 percent in States with universal helmet laws. Alcohol-related crashes killed over 1,500 motorcyclists in 2004, which is a 1 percent increase from 2003 (33).

Brain injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. A recent NHTSA study estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,546 motorcyclists in 2005. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 728 lives could have been saved. Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists. This translates to: for every 100 motorcyclists killed in crashes while not wearing a helmet, 37 of them could have been saved had all 100 worn helmets (34).