NOVA Online
NOVA menu (see bottom of page for text links)

Coma menu (see bottom of page for text links)


Important Questions | Support Line | Guidelines
Head Injury Fact Sheet | Other Web Sites

Important Questions
Provided by The American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Below are four questions you should ask if someone you know suffers a severe head injury:
  1. Is the medical facility a designated trauma center?
  2. If the patient is comatose, is the neurosurgeon monitoring intracranial pressure? If not, why?
  3. If the patient lost consciousness at any time, was a CT scan performed?
  4. If the CT scan was abnormal, was a neurosurgeon called for a consultation?
Support Line
The Brain Injury Association's toll-free help support line is 1-800-444-6443
(staffed 9 to 5 EST Monday through Friday, answering machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).


The Guidelines for the Management of Severe Head Injury were developed in 1995 as a joint initiative between the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), The Brain Trauma Foundation and The AANS/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Joint Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care. These guidelines serve as a parameter for the treatment of severe head injury patients around the world. One of the central concepts that emerged from the clinical research that went into developing the guidelines is that neurological damage does not only occur at the moment of impact, but also evolves over the ensuing hours or days. This has led to the development of better monitoring and treatment methods aimed at preventing this secondary injury and improving the outcome for patients who have suffered a head injury.

For more detailed information on the guidelines, go to For general information on the guidelines, go to the Interview with Dr. Ghajar

Head Injury Fact Sheet
Provided by The American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Every 15 seconds someone in the U.S. receives a head injury. Every five minutes one of these individuals will die or become permanently disabled from this injury.

Head Injury is the leading cause of death among children and young adults in the U.S.

Each year 373,000 Americans are hospitalized for severe head injuries. Of these, 99,000 individuals sustain moderate to severe brain injuries resulting in lifelong disabling conditions.

More than 30,000 children sustain permanent disabilities each year as a result of brain injuries.

Motor vehicle accidents are the cause of 50 to 60 percent of all severe head injuries. Fewer than 14 percent of those receiving a severe head injury in a motor vehicle accident were wearing seat belts.

The average hospital stay for a patient with severe head injury is 45 to 60 days.

The patient's Glasgow Coma Scale score at time of admission is the single best factor to determine patient outcome.

According to several Phase III Clinical Trials, the mortality rate of severe head injury patients has decreased 10 to 15 percent since 1984.

Meet Dr. Ghajar

Other Web Sites

Mass General Hospital Neurosurgery

Traumatic Brain Injury General Resoures

Archives of Neurology

Trauma, Emergency, and Intensive Care


The Perspectives Network

Meet Dr. Ghajar | Going On Call | Brain Geography | Chicago Hope
Interview | Help/Resources | Teacher's Guide | Transcript | Coma Home

Editor's Picks | Previous Sites | Join Us/E-mail | TV/Web Schedule
About NOVA | Teachers | Site Map | Shop | Jobs | Search | To print
PBS Online | NOVA Online | WGBH

© | Updated October 2000
Resources Meet Dr. Ghajar Chicago Hope Brain Geography On Call Ask Dr. Ghajar Coma NOVA Shop Site Map Search NOVA Archive Teachers TV/Web Schedule TV/Web Schedule Feedback