Senior Citizens at High Risk of Traumatic Brain
Injuries from Falls
Falls continued to be the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries
(35.2%) in the United States; Falls cause 61% of all TBIs among
adults aged 65 years and older
29, 2013 - Anyone who cares for or just cares
about an older adult - a parent, grandparent, other family member, or even
a close friend - will say they are concerned about keeping their loved one
healthy and independent. But few will say they are worried about a
traumatic brain injury (TBI) robbing their loved one of his or her
independence. That’s because many people simply are unaware that TBI is
a serious health concern for seniors.
Approximately 22% of all
TBI-related hospitalizations involved adults
aged 75 years and older and males are more often
diagnosed with a TBI (59%).
Each year, traumatic
brain injuries contribute to a substantial
number of deaths and cases of permanent
disability. Every year, at least 1.7 million TBIs occur either as an isolated injury or along
with other injuries.
TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or
jolt to the head that affects how the brain normally works. Dr. Ileana
Arias, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that
"falls are the leading causes of TBI."
"Adults ages 75 and older have the
highest rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and death, and they tend
to recover more slowly or die more often from these injuries than do
younger people," says Dr. Arias.
Unfortunately, TBI is not visible
and the signs and symptoms can be subtle. They might appear right after
the injury occurs, or they might not be noticed or appear until days or
even weeks later. TBIs also are easily missed because the person often
appears to be fine, but may act differently than usual.
In addition, some TBI signs and
symptoms mimic signs of aging, such as slowness in thinking, speaking,
reacting, or becoming lost and easily confused. Therefore, it is
important for those who care for and about older adults to look for
signs and symptoms of TBI in those who have fallen or among those with a
fall-related injury, such as a hip fracture.
The leading causes of TBI are:
• Falls (35.2%);
• Motor vehicle – traffic (17.3%);
• Struck by/against events (16.5%); and
• Assaults (10%).
• Falls continued to be the leading cause of TBI (35.2%) in
the United States. Falls cause half (50%) of the TBIs among
children aged 0 to 14 years and 61% of all TBIs among adults
aged 65 years and older.
Motor Vehicle-Traffic Crashes
• Among all age groups, motor vehicle crashes and
traffic-related incidents were the second leading cause of TBI
(17.3%) and resulted in the largest percentage of TBI-related
Fall prevention is the best way to
combat TBI among older adults. Dr. Arias recommends the following to
help prevent loved ones from falling.
Encourage your loved one to exercise, if their
doctor agrees. Exercise improves balance and coordination, so it’s
one of the best ways to reduce an older adult’s chance of falling.
Make their home and surroundings safer by
making easy modifications, such as removing rugs, placing frequently
used items within easy reach, and installing grab bars next to the
toilet and in the shower or tub.
Ask their health care provider to review all
medicines—both prescription and over-the-counter. The way some
medicines work in the body can change as people age.
Take your loved one to have their vision
checked. Poor vision can increase their chance of falling.
To learn more about the signs and
symptoms of TBI and how to prevent, recognize, and respond to TBI in
older adults, call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit: