Deaths from Traumatic Brain Injury Rise in Elderly

More elderly people are dying from traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a recent report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The data, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), noted that in general fatalities caused by TBI declined in the 2007-2013 period. However, the drop in the general population was caused by a reduction in TBI-related fatalities related to car accidents. Traumatic brain injury in people over 75 years old rose, likely as a result of falls.

A separate CDC report, issued in 2015, noted that the number of fall-related deaths in the elderly doubled between 2000 and 2013.

In the overall population, according to the MMWR, a fall was the most frequent cause of a head injury, accounting for 47%. Being hit by an object and car accidents were the second and third most common causes, respectively.

TBI-related emergency room visits rise dramatically in elderly

Overall, U.S. hospitals saw 2.8 million TBI-related incidents in 2013, in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and fatalities.

ER visits alone rose 56% overall in the period, to 2.5 million from the 1.6 million recorded in 2007. TBIs related to falls among the elderly (people over 75) constituted 18% of the climb.

Hospitalizations related to concussions were also up among patients over 75 years old in the period, a rise attributed chiefly to falls.

Traumatic brain injury causes 30% of all deaths related to injuries. Close to 1 in 50 emergency room visits overall are for injuries related to TBI.

Identifying risks for traumatic brain injury in the elderly

The MMWR noted that, given the rise of TBI-related falls in the elderly, more attention needed to be paid to effectively identifying risks and necessary interventions.

Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, for example, need to be careful of overprescribing sedatives, which may contribute to falls, difficulty walking, and mental impairment. Exercise, medication management, and safe surroundings can all be implemented to make the elderly safe from falls.

For the live-at-home elderly, interventions might also include medication management and environmental adjustments, such as anchoring rugs and letting in more light for optimal vision.

Hurt in a fall? Contact a personal injury attorney

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are seasoned personal injury lawyers who have practiced in New York state for over five decades. Have you or a loved one been hurt or lost a life in an injury caused by a fall? If so, we can explain your rights under personal injury law. You may be able to claim just compensation for medical bills and more.

For a complimentary consultation, call us today. Our attorneys can provide you with a thorough review of your case and clear explanation of your legal options. We can also come to you if traveling is an issue.

Additional “elderly risk for brain injuries” resources

  1. Taylor, Christopher A., et al. “Traumatic Brain Injury–Related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths — United States, 2007 and 2013.” MMWR – Surveillance Summaries, March 17, 2017 / 66(9);1–16.
  2. United States Centers for Disease Control. Home and Recreational Safety. Older Adult Falls. Important Facts About Falls.
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