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Among Americans age 65 and older, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) caused by falls led to nearly 8,000 deaths and 56,000 hospitalizations in 2005, according to a report from the CDC. Those 8,000 deaths represented 50% of all deaths from unintentional falls that year.
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those 65 and older. The injury most commonly associated with an older person falling is a broken hip, not a TBI. But TBIs-which can cause long-term cognitive, emotional, and functional impairments-are also a serious consequence of falls.
Older adults tend to fall more often because of risk factors, including poor mobility from muscle weakness or balance problems, loss of sensation in the feet, chronic health conditions, vision changes or loss, adverse effects of drugs, drug interactions, and environmental hazards such as clutter or poor lighting.
For older adults, their children, caregivers, and healthcare providers, the CDC has developed the "Help Seniors Live Better, Longer: Prevent Brain Injury" initiative, which provides information in a concise question-and-answer format in both English and Spanish.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2008/r080623.htm. Accessed July 8, 2008.
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