Traumatic Brain Injuries

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or by a penetrating head injury that changes the normal function of the brain. Each year, there are several thousand TBI-related deaths and hospitalizations in Washington.

TBI Fact Sheet (PDF)

A TBI can cause a wide range of short and long-term changes to:

  • Thinking: memory and reasoning
  • Sensation: balance, sight
  • Language: communication, understanding, expressing
  • Emotion: depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, and other effects.

If you or your child has received a blow to the head that causes physical or behavioral changes, please seek medical care. Even a mild injury needs proper evaluation, diagnosis and possible treatment.


Common causes of TBI in Washington State include:

  • Falls: Falls from beds, stairs, windows and other living areas impact young children and older adults more than other age groups.
  • Vehicles: Crashes involving cars, bicycles or pedestrians can lead to head injury
  • Violence: Suicides are the leading cause of TBI-related death. Intimate partner violence and child maltreatment can also lead to TBIs.

Things you can do to prevent traumatic brain injuries….

  • Always wear your seatbelt in vehicles and helmets when riding a motorcycle or bicycle or participating in other wheeled sports or on the ski slopes.
  • Provide children with safe places to live and play. Install window guards and safety gates in the home, wear helmets when riding, bikes, scooters, skateboards, skates or playing contact sports, and always use seatbelts, child safety seats and booster seats appropriately.
  • Teens and adults can model safe behavior for younger family members by wearing helmets, seatbelts and other safety equipment correctly every time.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider to take action to prevent falls.
  • In homes with young children with high windows or multilevel homes practice Stop @ 4 and install window stops for upper windows that limit the window from opening more than 4 inches and keep all furniture away from windows.
  • Promote healthy relationships individually and in your community.
  • Safely store firearms. Support people in crisis to get the mental health services they need.

Information Referral and Support

Washington 211 is a free, confidential community service providing information and referral services to local programs. Community resource specialists with Washington 211 are AIRS (Alliance of Information & Referral Systems) certified and receive additional training on helping people who have had a TBI.  

  • Call 2-1-1 anytime, day or night. 
  • Text 211WAOD to 898211 – standard message and data rates may apply, text STOP to opt out
  • Online visit

The Washington State Traumatic Brain Injury Strategic Partnership Advisory Council has a variety of active and inclusive TBI Support Groups available virtually, so you can connect with people anywhere you live. Visit to find a support group that fits you.


Do you need concussion prevention materials for your school or event? Contact us at 360-236-2863 or