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Female head injuries on the rise, reports charity Main Image

Female head injuries on the rise, reports charity

Mon 18 May 2015

The number of females being admitted to hospitals in the UK with non-superficial head injuries has risen by a shocking 24% since 2005-06, according to new statistics issued by brain injury charity Headway.

While males remain 1.6 times more likely to be admitted for a head injury, the data reveals that women are increasingly at risk and appear to be catching up with their male counterparts.

The statistics also reveal that the number of people admitted to the hospital in the UK with an acquired brain injury (ABI) related diagnosis has increased by 10% since 2005-06.

Using hospital admissions statistics, Headway has compiled the first dataset on all ABI-related hospital admissions in the UK. These include non-superficial head injuries, strokes, brain tumours, encephalitis, and a variety of additional conditions.

This is the first time a picture of incidence rates for all ABI in the UK has been published, with the figures highlighting a concerning growth in the number of people sustaining injuries to the brain each year.

Key findings from the research include:

Clipboard graphic showing total stroke admissions 130,551 There were 348,934 UK admissions to hospital with acquired brain injury in 2013-14. That is 566 admissions per 100,000 of the population.
Brain graphic showing head injuries up 6%, strokes up 9%, all ABIs up 10% since 2005-6 ABI admissions in the UK have increased by 10% since 2005-6.
Large H on a blue background with admissions per day below; 956 for all ABIs, 445 head injuries and 358 strokes There were approximately 956 ABI admissions per day to UK hospitals in 2013-14 - or one every 90 seconds.
A stopwatch reading 03:00 In 2013-14, there were 162,544 admissions for head injury. That equates to 445 every day, or one every three minutes.
Three bars of increasing size with a pink female figure to the right Men are 1.6 times more likely than women to be admitted for head injury. However, female head injury admissions have risen 24% since 2005-6.
Clipboard graphic showing total stroke admissions 130,551 In 2013-14, there were 130,551 UK admissions for stroke. That is an increase of 9% since 2005-6 and equates to one every four minutes.

"These statistics make for uneasy reading," said Luke Griggs, Director of Communications at Headway. "Every 90 seconds someone is admitted to a UK hospital with an ABI-related diagnosis that could lead to significant long-term disability, with the number of people affected increasing year-on-year.

"Perhaps of greatest concern is the dramatic rise in the number of females admitted with head injuries. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons for this, and further research is urgently needed in order to identify ways to understand this alarming increase.

"Many of those admitted will face an arduous battle to rebuild their lives and relearn lost skills most of us take for granted, including walking and talking. Even those who make good recoveries are still likely to require some short-term support and information.

"Such a significant increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with ABI-related diagnoses, coupled with the fact the majority of these people will survive, suggests an ever-increasing demand on support services. These include rehabilitation services provided by Headway across the UK to help people rebuild their lives and regain a degree of independence.

"This increased demand for support is evidenced by almost two million page views of the Headway website in 2014, and a 60% increase in calls to the UK-wide helpline in the past five years alone. Sadly, it comes at a time when Headway groups and branches are struggling to survive due to reduced local authority funding.

"It's a great shame that at a time when more and more people in need of help, local authorities are reducing the financial support they are providing."

The Headway study builds on a 2005 report by Professor Alan Tennant that fed into the National Service Framework for Long-term (Neurological) Conditions. Professor Tennant, widely regarded as the leading expert in the epidemiology of brain injury in this country, examined head injury incidence in England over two years, whereas Headway's current research has analysed as many conditions which lead to acquired brain injury as possible, across the entire UK, over a 14-year period since the start of the century.

Commenting on the Headway report, Professor Tennant said: "It is ten years since I published a Department of Health-funded study entitled Admission to hospital following head injury in England: Incidence and socio-economic association. The results confirmed that acquired brain injury is very common and constitutes a major public health concern.

"Headway's detailed ABI admission statistics provide an up-to-date picture of the scale of the problem. They offer the clearest picture to date of the pool of people who require support, from short-term advice and information, to long-term inpatient rehabilitation.

"The report also provides up-to-date evidence with which to approach commissioners, and to request funding for rehabilitation and support services in areas of the greatest need.

"I sincerely hope that this excellent research receives the attention it warrants in order to contribute to an improvement in future service provision."


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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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