121 Executive Center Drive, Ste.135  
Columbia, SC 29210  
Toll Free: 1-877-TBI-FACT (in-state)  
Fax: 803-681-0096  

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The Silent Epidemic

Traumatic Brain Injury in South Carolina

#1 Cause of Death for Persons Ages 1 to 44 Years

61,000 South Carolinians Have TBI-related Disability

61,000 residents live with a permanent disability due to TBI after being discharged alive from hospitals with TBI. TBI-related disabilities include physical, cognitive, and behavioral limitations. Imagine sitting in the end zone at the University of South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium or Clemson Memorial Stadium for a football game. It would take 3 out of every 4 seats (76%) to accommodate these TBI residents...

To illustrate the magnitude of deaths related to TBI in South Carolina, in 2006, for ages 1 to 44 years, 598 persons died from TBI. For the same ages and the same year, 322 persons died from cancer and 345 persons died from heart-related diseases.

Causes of TBI in South Carolina:

  • Falls: 28%

  • Motor vehicle crashes: 23%

  • Struck by/against events: 8%

  • Assaults: 10%

Each year in South Carolina:

  • Over 1,300 people will sustain a lifelong TBI-related disability

  • Approximately 1000 people of all ages die as a result of TBI

  • TBI continues to rank as the number one cause of death for people ages 1 to 44 years

  • Approximately 3,000 people with new TBI are hospitalized and discharged alive from hospitals

  • 12,000 people with new TBI are treated and released from Emergency Departments (ED)

  • Societal willingness-to-pay (WTP) estimate accounting for direct and indirect cost for SC is $3 billion

  • (Economists refer to WTP as intangibles. Example - the value lost for an avid worker because of losing his/her abilities to do the job)

Data herein obtained in part from the Division of Injury & Violence Prevention, S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control; Department of Biometry & Epidemiology, Medical University of South Carolina; and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National TBI Facts and Statistics

Click here for tbi facts from the CDC

What is a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of such an injury may range from "mild," i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to "severe," i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with independent function.

How many people have TBI?

Of the 1.4 million who sustain a TBI each year in the United States:

  • 52,000 die;

  • 275,000 are hospitalized; and

  • 1.4 million are treated and released from an emergency department.1

  • The number of people with TBI who are not seen in an emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.

What causes TBI?

The leading causes of TBI are:

  • Falls (35%);

  • Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (17.3%);

  • Struck by/against (16%); and Unknown/Other (21%)

  • Assaults (10%).

  • Blasts are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones.2

Who is at highest risk for TBI?

  • Males are about 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a TBI.1

  • The two age groups at highest risk for TBI are 0 to 4-year-olds and 15 to 19-year-olds.1

  • Certain military duties (e.g., paratrooper) increase the risk of sustaining a TBI.3

  • African-Americans have the highest death rate from TBI.1

What are the costs of TBI?

  • Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 1995.4

What are the long-term consequences of TBI?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 3.17 Million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI.5

According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were:

  • Improving memory and problem solving;

  • Managing stress and emotional upsets;

  • Controlling one's temper; and

  • Improving one's job skills.6

TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior, and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.7,8


1. Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Thomas KE. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: 
emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2006. 

2. Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). [unpublished]. Washington (DC): U.S. Department of Defense; 2005. 

3. Ivins BJ, Schwab K, Warden D, Harvey S, Hoilien M, Powell J, et al. Traumatic brain injury in U.S. army paratroopers: prevalence and character. Journal of Trauma-Injury, Infection and Critical Care 2003;55(4): 617-21. 

4. Finkelstein E, Corso P, Miller T, and associates. The Incidence and Economic Burden of Injuries in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 

5. Thurman D, Alverson C, Dunn K, Guerrero J, Sniezek J. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: a public health perspective. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 1999;14(6):602-15. 

6. Corrigan JD, Whiteneck G, Mellick D. Perceived needs following traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 2004;19(3):205-16. 

7. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Traumatic brain injury: hope through research. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health; 2002 Feb. NIH Publication No. 02-158. Available from:  https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Information-Page

8. Ylvisaker M, Todis B, Glang A, et al. Educating students with TBI: themes and recommendations. 
Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 2001; 16:76-93.

Remember: Brain Injury is the Silent Epidemic,
but you and I can give it a voice!

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Able SC:  An independent living center which is a consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability nonprofit that provides an array of independent living services.  Serves Chester, Clarendon, Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda, Sumter, York, Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, and Union counties.  (800) 681.6805.   http://www.able-sc.org/  

Access Ability:  An independent living center which is a consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability nonprofit that provides an array of independent living services.  Serves Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Orangeburg, and Williamsburg counties.  (866) 874.7730.   http://www.abilitysc.org/

Brain Injury Association of America:  The country's oldest and largest nationwide brain injury advocacy organization.  (703) 761-0750.   http://www.biausa.org

Brain Injury Journey - A Magazine Supporting the Brain Injury Community: This magazine is published 4 times/year, is 32 pages, 8 1/2 x 11, in full color and addresses a wide range of topics for families, survivors, caregivers and veterans living with brain injury as well as providers, clinicians and educators. You can receive this magazine free by email subscription or you can choose to receive an annual paid printed subscription for $32.00 with it mailed directly to you.  (919) 556-0300.   For more information on how to subscribe, click here

Brain Injury Navigator:  For students, families, and educators. Did you know that each year over 900 South Carolina students are returning to school after sustaining a brain injury? Visit South Carolina's Brain Injury Navigator at www.binav.org for information and resources for students, families, and educators on brain injury and school re-entry. 

Brainline:  a website for civilians and military personnel living with traumatic brain injury.

Center for Disability Resources Library:  Brain Injury Books and resources can be mailed to you.  You will receive a postage-paid mailing envelope to return them.  (803) 216-3206
http://uscm.med.sc.edu/CDR/index.htm   or email steve.wilson@uscmed.sc.edu   

Center for Disease Control (CDC):  Information about TBI:  http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi/TBI.htm

CDC:  Get the Facts about TBI

Client Assistance Program (CAP) - The Client Assistance Program (CAP) assists individuals who receive or want to receive services from the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (VR) or the South Carolina Commission for the Blind (SCCB) understand their rights to services. CAP also helps people understand their employment rights; such as their rights to reasonable accommodations and to be free from disability related discrimination.

People should contact P&A when they have been turned down for services by VR or SCCB, need a better plan for VR or SCCB to help them go back to work, or need to better understand their rights. P&A can also help if people are not receiving the services they need from independent living centers. P&A will continue to assist individuals who encounter other barriers to work, such as employment discrimination, through its PABSS program (Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security). P&A Toll Free: 1-866-275-7273; Local: 1-803-782-0639; TTY: 1-866-232-4525; Email: info@pandasc.org ; Website: www.pandasc.org

Cognitive Training:   a Personalized training program to rehabilitate co gnitive impairments as a result of brain injury, stroke or neuro-degenerative conditions.  7-day free trial at www.happy-neuron.com/freetrial

Dreamriders Therapeutic Horseback riding: Providing opportunities for people with special needs to benefit from equine assisted activities in a safe environment. (803 957-7906  http://www.dreamrider.org/

Family Connection of SC:  A statewide nonprofit organization with the mission to strengthen and encourage families of children with special healthcare needs through parent support.  (800) 578-8750. http://www.familyconnectionsc.org/

Free Medical Clinics: Provides quality health care, at no cost, to residents of SC who cannot pay for such services and who have no health insurance.  (803) 765.1503.   http://www.freemedclinic.org/

Get Care SC:  This is a guide to available resources for older adults, people with disabilities, their family members and caregivers in South Carolina.  (803) 734-9900. https://www.getcaresc.com/

IRS:  www.irs.gov.   Free tax return preparation to individuals having low to moderate income.  (800) 829-1040 or TTY/TDD (800) 829-4059

Lash and Associates:  Brain Injury books, tip cards, resources available for purchasing: http://www.lapublishing.com/ 

Long term care facility locator:  http://www.nfbl.sc.gov/

Medicare:  A health insurance program for people age 65 and over, people under the age of 65 with certain disabilities, and people of all ages with End-stage Renal Disease.  (800) 633-4227. www.medicare.gov

No Tears in Heaven:  an Inspirational and informational website developed by the family of a 12-year-old boy who had an anoxic brain injury due to cardiac arrest.  http://www.notearsinheaven.com

Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services:   PAALS trains animals to assist people with varying abilities to live more independent and enriched lives by providing them with assistance dogs.  (803) 788-7063.  www.paals.org

Prisma Health SeniorCare PACE:  Provides all-inclusive medical care with adult day health services for participants 55 years and older residing in Lexington and Richland Counties. https://www.palmettohealth.org/medical-services/other-services/geriatric-services/palmetto-seniorcare

Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities:  provides a variety of assistance for people with disabilities who feel their rights are violated or are having difficulty accessing services.  (866) 275-7273. http://pandasc.org/

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Information Center:  https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp

SAMSHA Resources for returning veterans and their families:  http://www.samhsa.gov/veterans-military-families/samhsas-efforts

SC ABLE(sm) A SC ABLE(sm) savings account is an investment account that allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save money for the future without losing eligibility for important benefit programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SC Assistive Technology Project:  Federally funded program concerned with getting technology into the hands of people with disabilities so that they might live, work, learn and be a more independent part of the community.  (800) 915-4522.  http://www.sc.edu/scatp/ 

SC Commission for the Blind:  helps blind and visually impaired residents of SC gain independence.  Provide training, job placement and business opportunities for South Carolinians.  (888) 335-5951.  www.sccb.state.sc.us 

SC Developmental Disabilities Council Recreation Opportunities:  http://scddc.recreation.state.sc.us/

SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Head and Spinal Cord Injury Division: offers information and referral and case management to directly assist individuals in accessing appropriate public and private resources and an array of other services and supports. (866) 867-3864. http://www.ddsn.sc.gov/consumers/divisions/Pages/HASCI.aspx

SC Department of Health and Environmental Control:  Provides information on TBI in SC and the SC Student Athlete Concussion Law.  http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/ChildTeenHealth/Concussions/            

SC Department of Health and Human Services/Healthy Connections/Medicaid: If you can't afford to pay for medical care, Medicaid can assist financially eligible people to get care from approved providers who accept Medicaid. A person must apply for Medicaid at the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. An electronic application is available on the website.  (888) 549-0820.   https://www.scdhhs.gov/

SC Department of Mental Health:  Provides a full range of community and inpatient services to citizens of all ages who have emotional or psychiatric problems.  (803) 898-8581.  http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/

SC Drug Card:  A free statewide prescription assistance program that offers free drug cards to all South Carolina residents. The program provides discounts on both brand and generic medications with an average savings of around 30%. The program has no restrictions to membership, no income requirements, no age limitations and there are no applications to fill out.  www.southcarolinadrugcard.com

SC Housing and Urban Development:   Mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.  (803) 765-5592.  https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/south_carolina

SC Respite Coalition:  The mission of the SC Respite Coalition is to expand quality respite opportunities in South Carolina throughout the lifespan for South Carolina families who have a member with special needs.  (866) 345-6786.   http://screspitecoalition.org/

SC Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program   Provides telephones or other assistive equipment to S.C. residents who are hearing impaired or have speech impairments.  (803) 737-0870. http://www.sc.edu/scatp/scatcenters/atresource.htm#tedp  

SC Thrive (The Benefit Bank):  Assists individuals with finding financial resources and benefits. (800) 726-8774.   https://www.scthrive.org/the-benefit-bank/

SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department - prepares people with disabilities to become qualified candidates for employment by using in-depth assessment, disability management, job readiness courses and hands-on training. Services are available at 29 locations throughout the state. For more information, call 800-832-7526, 803-896-6533 (TTY), or visit http://www.scvrd.net 

Social Security Administration (Social Security and Supplemental Security Income):  For financial assistance, the Social Security Administration provides applications for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income.  1-800-772-1213.   http://www.socialsecurity.gov/

South Carolina Brain Injury Leadership Council:  The state's advisory body on brain injury as mandated under the federal TBI Act of 1996. It is an active forum for addressing systems issues, service gaps, funding constraints and public awareness related to brain injury. http://www.scbilc.com/

State Library:  There's more than one way to read a book: (800) 922-7818.  http://www.statelibrary.sc.gov/tbs

The South Carolina Online Assistive Technology Exchange:  An online recycling database that helps citizens with disabilities and older people with functional limitations find affordable assistive technology devices and equipment.  http://www.sc.edu/scatp/reutilization.html#scexchange

U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs:  http://www.va.gov/

Walmart Prescription Drug Discounts:  http://www.walmart.com/cp/5431

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Department of Disabilities and Special Needs -  Head And Spinal Cord Injury Division

Waiver Fact Sheets ID/RD

Post Acute Rehabilitation Funds Handout

SC Head and Spinal Cord Injury Division (HASCI) Eligibility and HASCI Medicaid Waiver information

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The Brain Injury Association of South Carolina
  121 Executive Center Drive, Ste.135
  Columbia, SC 29210
  Phones: 803-731-9823
  Toll Free: 1-877-TBI-FACT (in-state)
  Fax: 803-681-0096
  Executive Director
  Outreach Coordinator




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