DVBIC is the DoD’s Office of Responsibility for tracking traumatic brain injury (TBI) data in the U.S. military. Our website provides numbers for service members diagnosed with TBI since 2000, listed in total and identified by service and injury severity. The numbers are updated each quarter.
Information posted here is collected from electronic medical records in cooperation with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.
About the Data
The numbers represent service members with a TBI, diagnosed anywhere U.S. forces are located, including the continental United States. The diagnosis and severity of injury were determined using ICD-9 codes. Importantly, these numbers are not all deployment-related; over 80 percent of TBIs are diagnosed in a non-deployed setting. Common causes of TBI include crashes in privately owned and military vehicles, falls, sports and recreation activities, and military training.
Number of Service Members Diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury
|Year||Number of Service Members Diagnosed||Report|
|Total||333,169||DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers since 2000, PDF [1.19 MB]|
|2000||10,958||2000 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.41 MB]|
|2001||11,619||2001 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.4 MB]|
|2002||12,407||2002 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.43 MB]|
|2003||12,815||2003 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.41 MB]|
|2004||14,468||2004 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.41 MB]|
|2005||15,530||2005 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.43 MB]|
|2006||17,036||2006 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.42 MB]|
|2007||23,218||2007 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.42 MB]|
|2008||28,538||2008 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.45 MB]|
|2009||28,958||2009 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.45 MB]|
|2010||29,442||2010 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.41 MB]|
|2011||32,907||2011 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.45 MB]|
|2012||30,801||2012 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.43 MB]|
|2013||27,646||2013 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [2.45 MB]|
|2014||25,111||2014 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [1.18 MB]|
|2015 (Q1-Q2)||11,715||2015 DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers, PDF [1.18 MB]|
New identified cases are added each calendar quarter. To reflect updated medical record information, all TBI numbers, 2000 to most recent quarter, are also retrospectively updated once every year.
Updates to Previously Reported Data
Frequent visitors to this website may ask whether some of the TBI figures have changed, and they have. Data experts in every field - military or civilian - review and perform quality control checks on the data they gather and use. While members of the military health system were performing quality checks, they found an error in coding that led to inaccurate reporting: a digit transposition made during data entry led to some TBIs being listed as “moderate” rather than “unclassifiable.”
Injuries and illnesses are assigned in both civilian and military medicine are categorized using a system organized by the U.N.’s World Health Organization known as the International Classification of Diseases, ninth edition, or ICD-9. The U.S. military, after assigning an ICD-9 code, further classifies TBIs into the categories of mild, moderate, severe, penetrating or unclassifiable.
This error did not impact the care given to any service members or documentation in any individuals’ medical records; rather, the digit transposition only impacted the military health system’s overall reporting. Every service member who was diagnosed with a TBI has still and/or is still receiving appropriate care. The act of finding and fixing this error has led to the shift of some TBIs being reclassified from “moderate” to “mild TBI (mTBI)” or “unclassifiable.” Said another way, the total number of TBI cases remains the same, but a number of those cases over the years has moved from one column to another.
The vast majority of TBIs sustained by members of the U.S. armed forces is still mild, also known as concussion, and of those service members who sustain an mTBI, most recover and return to duty within seven to 10 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What was the coding error? The ICD-9 code number 854.00, for intracranial injury of other and unspecified nature – unclassifiable, was mistakenly listed as “moderate” rather than “unclassified.”
- Did the coding error impact the health care provided to any service members? No. This was a data error, not a patient care error.
Data is provided by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center using on the Defense Medical Surveillance System and Theater Medical Data Store.
A case of TBI is defined based on MHS TBI coding guidance (Appendix G: TBI from the Military Health System Coding Guidance: Professional Services and Specialty Coding Guidelines (Version 3.2, effective date 2009/10/01) by the Unified Biostatistical Utility working group) for the first inpatient or outpatient TBI encounter. Individuals with multiple TBI healthcare encounters are included only once. An individual is considered an incident case only once per lifetime.
Severity categories are ranked from more to less severe with the highest level of severity documented determining the severity category classification used for that patient, and the date of their initial TBI medical encounter determines the calendar year in which they are considered an incident case.
Case counts for the current year and immediate past calendar year are updated quarterly. For all other years, case counts are updated annually to reflect changes in medical information.
Annual Totals at a Glance
Department of Defense Numbers for Traumatic Brain Injury: Total Worldwide Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnoses: This graph depicts the number of service members diagnosed every year since 2000, and corresponds with the number of service members diagnosed with traumatic brain injury table above. It shows annual increases in identified service members with Traumatic Brain Injury, peaking in 2011 at nearly 33,000 cases, after which there has been a steady decline each year.
Department of Defense Numbers for Traumatic Brain Injury: Worldwide - Incidence by Armed Forces Branch: This graph depicts the number of service members diagnosed every year since 2000, according to service. Army accounts for the largest number of service members with traumatic brain injury, peaking in 2011 with nearly 20,000 identified cases, followed by Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy service members.
Department of Defense Numbers for Traumatic Brain Injury: Worldwide - Incidence by Severity: This graph depicts the number of service members diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, every year since 2000, according to the severity of the sustained injury. Mild traumatic brain injuries are shown to be by far the largest source of service member traumatic brain injuries, with over 20,000 cases in 2014 alone, followed by other severity injuries, accounting for less than 9,000 cases total.