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ARTICLES / General / March is Brain Injury Awareness Month/ Other Articles

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Traumatic Brain Injuries can Result from Senior Falls

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Traumatic brain injuries due to falls caused nearly 8,000 deaths and 56,000 hospitalizations in 2005 among Americans 65 and older, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in the June issue of the Journal of Safety Research.

Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are caused by a bump or blow to the head; however, they may be missed or misdiagnosed among older adults. TBI often results in long-term cognitive, emotional, and/or functional impairments. In 2005, TBIs accounted for 50 percent of unintentional fall deaths and eight percent of nonfatal fall-related hospitalizations among older adults.

Falls are not an inevitable consequence of aging, but they do occur more often among older adults because risk factors for falls are usually associated with health and aging conditions. Some of these conditions include mobility problems due to muscle weakness or poor balance, loss of sensation in feet, chronic health conditions, vision changes or loss, medication side effects or drug interactions, and home and environmental hazards such as clutter or poor lighting.

“Most people think older adults may only break their hip when they fall, but our research shows that traumatic brain injuries can also be a serious consequence,” said Dr. Ileana Arias, director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “These injuries can cause long-term problems and affect how someone thinks or functions. They can also impact a person’s emotional well-being.”

Each year, one in three older Americans (65 and older) falls, and 30 percent of falls cause injuries requiring medical treatment. In 2005, nearly 16,000 older adults died from falls, 1.8 million older adults were treated in emergency departments, and 433,000 of these patients were hospitalized. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and nonfatal injuries for those 65 and over.

 

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