Falls and Head Injuries in People Over 65
Research tells us that people older than 65 years old have about a 27% chance of a fall in any given year. Physiologic age-related changes in balance, vision and hearing, physical strength, and cognitive skills contribute to the increase in falls in this age group. Head injuries and broken bones, especially hip fractures, are the most common serious injuries from falls.
Head injuries are a major concern with fall-related accidents in the older population due to the higher risk of bleeding in the brain and also poor outcomes for recovery. Our brain atrophies with age, which increases bleeding in the brain. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death worldwide. In one study, patients 85 and older had almost four times the risk of falls than the 65-74 age group.
With the weather more conducive to outdoor activities, the fall risk and result of injury can increase. The majority of falls occur at ground level in the elderly.
An unwitnessed fall presents challenges in diagnosing and treating a serious head injury, leading to higher morbidity in the elderly. A person who fell and injured their head may have experienced a loss of consciousness, difficulty in memory or challenges in communication. When changes in behavior or physical abilities occur, asking about recent activities and checking for any signs of injuries on even the extremities may indicate a fall has occurred. A timely physician exam can be critical to a higher chance of diagnosis and recovery.
Minimizing exposure to accidents is of course, the best course of action to prevent a severe brain injury. Here are some tips at decreasing chances of serious falls:
Exercise programs that are geared towards improving strength and balance with safety in mind
Home assessments for fall risks such as rugs that increase slip and trip accidents, pathways between furniture, appropriate lighting during different times of the day, including nighttime bathroom trips
Medication review for any increased side effects of dizziness or vertigo
Nutritional assessments especially regarding appropriate levels of Vitamin D and Calcium
Regular physician visits, including eye and hearing exams
When Brain Injury Rehab is Needed
Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals can help with improving daily functioning after a brain injury.
At Indianapolis Rehabilitation Hospital, our team of specialized physicians, therapists, and nurses will collaborate to develop and deliver the best rehabilitation service to people who have a traumatic or non-traumatic brain injury.
See our blog on Brain Injury Awareness March is Brain Injury Awareness Month (indianapolis-rehabhospital.com) for more details about our rehab services or visit Brain Injury Rehab | Indianapolis Rehab | Carmel (indianapolis-rehabhospital.com)