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Brain Shrinkage Increases Risk of TBI After a Fall

When a young person suffers an injury from a fall, they tend to pop right back up having sustained only minor damage. When a serious injury does occur, which doesn’t happen often, they usually recover relatively quickly. But as the human body begins to age, falls can become more serious and potentially life-threatening. When you hear about a nursing home resident falling, it can be extremely worrisome.

To make matters worse, it’s not uncommon for nursing home residents to suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a fall, which can lead to life-long impairments related to thinking, memory, movement, vision, hearing, and emotional functioning. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that more than 80 percent of TBIs in adults age 65 and older are caused by falls. So, why are older adults at a higher risk for injury after a fall than young adults and kids? The answer lies in how our brains and bodies change as we age.

The Link Between Brain Shrinkage and TBIs in the Elderly

As the human body ages, the brain shrinks in volume, particularly in the frontal cortex. This doesn’t mean that older individuals become less intelligent—it’s simply a natural physical process. This reduction creates more space between the brain and the skull, which results in blood vessels becoming tighter, thinner, and more susceptible to damage.

In the event of a fall, the veins that connect the brain to the skull—if damaged—can develop a slow blood leak in the brain that doesn’t stop bleeding the way a typical bruise does, which can cause complications. If the nursing home resident was taking blood thinners, aspirin, or other anti-inflammatory medications prior to the fall, the injury can become more severe.

TBI Symptoms in Older Adults

Most people with TBI recover well from symptoms experienced at the time of the injury. But for others—especially those over the age of 65—symptoms can last for days, weeks, or even months. If your loved one suffered a fall, especially if they hit their head, it’s important to understand the common symptoms of TBI. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, seek medical attention immediately. This includes:

  • Difficulty thinking clearly, feeling slowed down, and difficulty concentrating
  • Blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to light
  • Feelings of sadness, nervousness, anxiety, and irritability
  • Sleeping more or less than usual and trouble falling asleep
  • Problems with balance
  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Bladder incontinence

It’s not uncommon for the injured individual and their family to overlook some of these TBI symptoms. That’s because some nursing home residents have trouble admitting their pain and understanding how their symptoms impact their daily life. Likewise, some of these symptoms appear right away after the fall while others may not materialize for days or months after the injury. It’s important, in this case, to be overly cautious. Seek medical attention right away after the fall and again if you notice any of these symptoms in the days or months after the injury.

What Can You Do to Prevent Nursing Home Falls?

It’s impossible to completely eliminate your loved one’s chance of a fall, especially if they live in a nursing home. However, it’s important to take every precautionary measure possible to reduce their chances, which includes asking the nursing home management staff about their fall prevention practices. Here are a few general strategies that may apply:

  • Prevent fainting: The management staff should be advised of any patient that’s prone to passing out. Falls are often a result of an elderly resident standing up too quickly, which swiftly drops their blood pressure and causes them to faint. Though medication is an important prevention strategy, it’s not foolproof.
  • Staying active, but with assistance: It’s vital that nursing home residents find the time to move their body, even if that means walking around the room or sitting up in bed and stretching. However, those residents who need assistance should be aided by the staff who can help them do so safely. Likewise, caretakers should make sure immobile residents remain comfortable and engaged so they don’t have to get up unnecessarily.
  • Create and maintain safe surfaces: Nursing home residents—and especially the nursing home staff—should create and maintain safe surfaces. This includes making sure the floor space is clear of all potential hazards.

As our loved ones continue to age, their risk of falling and injuring themselves increases. That’s why it’s so important to implement preventative measures. When accidents do happen, seek help right away. Likewise, if you think someone else may be at-fault for the injury, don’t hesitate to get in contact with a New York slip and fall lawyer who can evaluate your options.

Contact New York Slip-and-Fall Personal Injury Attorneys

If you believe that a member of your family is caught up in a harmful or neglectful situation, contact the trusted attorneys at Dalli and Marino. We’re a group of experienced lawyers who understand New York-specific regulations and government healthcare. Our team of highly-skilled trial attorneys will best be able to help you determine how much compensation you may be awarded based on the circumstances of your case.

At Dalli and Marino, our verdicts and settlements have recovered millions of dollars for our clients since 1996. We approach each case on an individual basis and serve to help you or your loved one recover the money you need to compensate for your injury or illness. Give us a call at (516) 292-4700 or complete our contact form today.