Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Findings on a decline in the incidence of severe TBI published in the MJA

Dr Ben Beck from SPHPM was published today in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) on recent findings from a nine-year analysis of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients in Victoria. Other eminent authors on the study included Professor Peter Cameron, Senior Research Fellow Dr Janet Bray, Professor Jamie Cooper and Professor Belinda Gabbe.

Dr Ben Beck analysed data from the Victorian State Trauma Registry on the incidence of hospitalised severe TBI. There were 2062 hospitalised severe TBI cases in Victoria during the nine-year study period, and severe TBI comprised nine per cent of all major trauma cases.

The researchers found that the incidence of severe TBI fell in the nine year period, at a rate of 5% per year. Dr Ben Beck highlighted that the majority of these reductions were observed in the road trauma group.

“We observed a decline in the incidence of severe TBI resulting from motor vehicle, cyclist and pedestrian collisions. From the road trauma perspective, this is a good news story. It is evident that injury prevention strategies are working in this group.”

This is the first Australia study to be conducted into the incidence of all hospitalised severe TBI cases across all age groups, and while the study did reveal an overall decline of severe TBI, low falls resulting in severe TBI appear to be on the rise.

The authors found that the incidence of severe TBI from low falls had increased 4 per cent year during the study period, so that in recent years it was higher than that for severe TBI resulting from motor vehicle crashes.

“While we did see a decline in the incidence of motor vehicle-related severe TBI, suggesting that road injury prevention measures have been effective, we also identified an increase in the incidence of severe TBI resulting from low falls, which in recent years was higher than that for motor vehicle crashes,” said Dr Beck.

Further, mortality associated with TBI was highest for those aged 65 years or more, which is the same population in which the majority of severe TBIs resulting from low falls are seen.

The authors also found that severe TBI resulting from intentional events (violence and self-harm) was an infrequent event with an incidence of 0.60 cases per 100,000 population per year, and this had also declined, by 5% per year across the study period.

Dr Ben Beck said that the study has important public health implications for TBI prevention and care.

“Given the devastating consequences of severe TBI, efforts in both primary and secondary prevention are critical for reducing mortality and non-fatal injury burden. Ongoing efforts to reduce road trauma, interpersonal violence and self-harm injury are warranted, while increased efforts to reduce fall-related injury and injuries to vulnerable road users are needed,” said Dr Beck.

Check out Dr Ben Beck in the MJA podcast and video interview chatting about the findings from the study here. You can also follow Dr Ben Beck (@DrBenBeck) on Twitter.

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