Seasonal patterns of traumatic brain injury deaths due to traffic-related incidents in the Slovak Republic

Objective: Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are an important type of injury in terms of both morbidity and mortality. Road Traffic Incidents are one of the most frequent causes of TBI. This analysis seeks to quantify the number of such injuries occurring in the Slovak Republic, and examine patterns of TBI according to mode of transport and seasonality.

Methods: Data concerning total numbers of TBIs occurring from the years 1996–2015 were obtained from the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic. The events caused by road incidents were examined separately according the external cause stated on death certification. Events were classified into seasons according to the month of death. Summary statistics were produced concerning numbers of deaths according to sex, mode of transport and season. Analyses were performed to examine trends in TBI by season and type of road user.

Results: During a period of 20 years from 1996, there were 17,047 recorded deaths involving TBI in the Slovak Republic. Of these, 5,370 were caused by road traffic incidents (RTIs). Age standardized rates tended to decrease from 8.3/100,000/year (1996) to 2.5/100,000/year (2015). Males made up approximately 79% of road traffic-caused TBIs. Summer and autumn showed significantly more events than any other season, with motorcyclists and cyclists in particular being more frequently injured at this time of year.

Conclusions: The results show that Slovakia, like many countries, suffers a considerable burden of TBI and that RTIs are a major contributor to this, especially among young adults. Rates of TBI vary by season in Slovakia, and users of different modes of transport appear more or less likely to suffer such injury during different seasons. Considerable variability in rates of injury exists between road users and times of year. Improved understanding of the timing and sufferers of injuries may allow better planning of response and care services. Further research into transport modes and policies aimed at safer driving should be explored.