CBS News reported in 2017 that a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the rate of concussions among the elderly is increasing dramatically. These numbers are based on a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CBS News reported “One in every 45 Americans 75 and older suffered brain injuries that resulted in emergency department visits, hospitalizations, or deaths in 2013. The rate for that age group jumped 76 percent from 2007.” It article went on to say that “The report, which explored brain injuries in general, also found an increase in brain injuries from suicides and suicide attempts.”
The culprit behind these brain injuries and attempted suicides? Falls. When a younger person trips and hits his or her head, that person might only sustain a mild injury – one that will heal on its own, without any further medical treatment. But for the elderly, such “minor” falls can actually prove catastrophic. What seniors don’t realize is that a mild fall can create a concussion. One fall increases the likelihood of more falls. According to the data, 27,000 Americans die from a fall each year.
Why seniors are falling more
Older people fall more often; that is documented fact. The CDC reports could not offer a definitive reason why the numbers of fall-related concussions have been increasing, but CBS News offered up a few possible options:
- More and more seniors are living on their own, in their own homes.
- Many seniors don’t get the medical help they need because they’re afraid if they report that they fell that they will lose their independence, and be forced to live in a nursing home.
- Seniors suffer many other health problems that can cause a fall such as:
- Dizziness from medications or other conditions
- Poor vision which makes it easy to trip or to be unable to see dangerous conditions
- Less ability to stabilize themselves if they begin to fall
According to Dr. Lauren Sutherland, an Ohio State University emergency physician, and other OSU researchers, more than 1/3 of older adults who suffer a minor head injury return to the ER within 90 days. Older ER patients tend not to be evaluated as thoroughly for concussions as younger patients. Dr. Sutherland says that stronger protocols for geriatric patients are needed.
The CBS report recommends that seniors get their vision checked on a regular basis. They should do exercises to make their legs stronger. Homes should be made safer so that seniors don’t fall as easily. Throw rugs should be removed. Lighting should be improved. Handrails should be installed.
At Cunningham & Mears, our Oklahoma City TBI lawyers fight to protect our clients. If a traumatic brain injury is due to a car accident, negligence in a nursing home, an unsafe property, or for any reason related to negligence, we want to help. We represent Oklahoma TBI victims of all ages. For help now, please phone 405-232-1212 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.