Study Shows Cinema is Misleading Young Adults about Traumatic Brain Injuries

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According to one study, young adults have serious misconceptions about the severity of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) because of how it is portrayed in movies. The purpose of the study from the University of Otago, Wellington was to investigate whether misconceptions about TBI are present in university students and conduct a quantitative analysis of how TBI symptoms and recovery is portrayed in mainstream action movies. No previous research group has explored the potential relationship between misconceptions about TBI and the way TBI is portrayed in popular movies.

Research Methods

During the first portion of the study, investigators visited four university campuses in Wellington, New Zealand, and conducted a survey of people between the ages of 18 and 24 that asked about their perceptions of TBI and their exposure to a list of 20 action films. During the second part, the 20 selected action films were analyzed for how frequent head injuries, TBI symptoms, recovery time, and outcome were portrayed.

Study Results

359 completed surveys were analyzed for this study. The results revealed that respondents had various misconceptions about TBI. In particular, males who took the survey provided more correct answers than females, although the difference was minor. Respondents who had previous exposure to TBI personally were more likely to answer questions regarding recovery correctly.

Of the 20 action films that were analyzed for the study, researchers identified a total of 930 head injury events. According to researchers, 39.7% of characters in these films immediately recovered after exhibiting TBI symptoms. If the TBI in the film was the result of violence or a car accident, then the percentage increased to 72.7% and 80%, respectively.


Findings from this study reveal that major misconceptions about TBI are present in 18 to 24-year-old university students and those popular action movies inaccurately depict the struggle of recovering from TBI. Authors of the study propose social media and advertising campaigns as countermeasures to combat misconceptions about TBI.

Our talented legal team at Scarlett Law Group has earned some of the largest verdicts in history on behalf of clients in California who have suffered TBI injuries. We are prepared to offer comprehensive legal assistance if you or a loved one have been seriously injured, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (415) 688-2176 to schedule your case consultation.

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