Acquired brain injury severely affects 160,000 Australians

More than 160,000 Australians were severely affected by acquired brain injury (ABI) and needed some form of personal assistance or supervision with every day living, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The Definition, Incidence and Prevalence of Acquired Brain Injury in Australia shows that the number of people severely affected by ABI was similar to the number of people with an intellectual disability and a quarter of the total of those with a physical disability.

These 160,000 are among a total of 339,000 Australians who, in 1993, had a disability related to acquired brain injury which affected them in one or more activities of daily or social life. The prevalence of ABI-related disability was higher for men (2.2%) than for women (1.6%). ABI-related disability rates for Queensland and the Northern Territory were significantly higher than the national average.

Acquired brain injury may be due to a range of causes, including strokes, excessive alcohol consumption, deprivation of oxygen (anoxic brain injury), degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, or an accident of some kind (traumatic brain injury).

Report co-author, Ms Nicola Fortune, said that, in 1996-97, more than 27,000 hospital cases (149 per 100,000 population) had a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

'The highest rate of TBI cases in hospitals was for young people aged 15-19 years (284 per 100,000), and almost 70% of TBI hospital cases were for men', Ms Fortune said.

'In the States and Territories, Queensland residents had the highest rate of traumatic brain injury-associated hospital admissions (211 per 100,000), while those living in the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest rate (71 per 100,000).'

In 1996-97, there were over 51,000 hospital cases with a diagnosis of stroke, an important cause of acquired brain injury in older people, and 2,700 hospital cases with a diagnosis of alcohol related brain injury.

The Definition, Incidence and Prevalence of Acquired Brain Injury in Australia is the third in a series of reports looking at the definition and prevalence of different types of disability in Australia. The AIHW plans to update the 1993 estimates using data from the 1998 ABS survey of disability ageing and carers, when that detailed information becomes available.

22 December 1999


Further information: Ms Nicola Fortune, AIHW, ph. 02 6244 1185.
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, ph. 02 6244 1032.
Availability: Check the AIHW for details.