A Waikato study has revealed that
traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are far more common than what was previously
thought and that they outrated strokes and heart attacks.
Findings reveal that rates of TBI
in New Zealand are 790 TBI per 100,000 people per year - a rate that is the
highest so far among developed countries. This
study helped the researchers from AUT's National Institute for Stroke and
Applied Neuroscience to estimate that 36,000 new TBIs were occurring in New
Zealand per year. Earlier studies had excessively underestimated the numbers.
95% of TBI detected were mild;
however, lead Professor Valery Feigin has issued a
warning that even mild cases often can contribute to significant later life
health problems such as dementia and stroke.
study was carried out in an area which had a population of about 173,000. Out
of this group, 1369 people were diagnosed with TBI in a year, of which 71 cases
were classified as moderate to severe. This estimate makes us to understand
that one new TBI occurs every 15 minutes and that it far out numbers heart
attacks and that it is five times the rate of new strokes occurrence.
occurs when a bump or blow to the head disrupts the normal function of the
brain. Falls accounted for the majority of TDIs and it included falling off
trees, horses or ladder (37%). Falls caused by mechanical forces (including
animals, inanimate objects or another human) accounted for 21% of cases.
Contact sports, transport accidents, and assaults made up the other causes.
due to falls were more commonly seen in children and people above the age of 65
rate of TBI in New Zealand was 790 cases per 100,000 people in comparison to 47
to 453 cases in Europe, and 51 to 618 cases in North America. More research
needed to be done to work out why the incidence of TBI was so much higher in
remarked that more research is needed to be done to understand the disparity.
He reasoned that some of the difference could be due to the difference in
carrying out the study, but he also acknowledged that the injuries from assault
was much more in New Zealand than in Europe, or elsewhere.
Waikato study discovered that males had a 77 per cent greater risk of TBIs
compared to females, and that the risk for Maori people was 23 per cent greater
compared to New Zealand Europeans. Similarly the risk of moderate to severe TBI
was almost 2.5 times higher in the rural population in comparison to the urban
study has been proposed as the first largest population-based study that was
carried out to gather the incidence of TBI across all age groups in an area
with both urban and rural populations.
says that the consequences of TBI are not mild and could result in health
problems such as dementia or even stroke. Social impacts may include behavioral
changes and depression.
The results of the study have been published in
the medical journal The Lancet.