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A Contrasted Opinion: Unraveling the Ancestry of Traumatic Brain Injury Causes

Sirens continue to wail in the minds of many individuals as they have begun to realize that injuries caused by falls are becoming increasingly common. In fact, falls are the leading cause of death in the United States of America (USA) for individuals over the age of 65 (Jager, Weiss, Coben & Pepe, 2000). They are also responsible for 40% of all convalescent care registrations (September is National Falls Prevention Month - Age Safe® America | Senior Home Safety | Aging in Place, 2016).

Falls Prevention Awareness Week is finally here (The National Council on Aging, 2021)! In this article, we contribute to the pool of awareness surrounding this leading cause of injury by providing you with a complete guide on falls. Our research also provides you with a different perspective on existing facts.

Take a Stand to Prevent Falls!

Source: (Falls Prevention Week, 2021)

Before you continue to read this article, we urge you to ask yourself-- have you fallen down or slipped before? 

The Recurrent Nature of a Fall

In the USA, medical bills reached an aggregate of $50 billion, 75% of which was shouldered by Medicare and Medicaid (Florence et al., 2018). These elevated costs are a result of 300,000 hip fracture hospital admissions every year. This fact is considered to be alarming after research pointed out that 95% of hip fractures stem from falls, most of which are sideways (Hayes et al., 1993, Parkkari et al., 1999). One out of every five falls is labeled as ‘serious’, subsequently requiring treatment for a head injury or a broken bone (Alexander, Rivara & Wolf, 1992).

Fall Death Rates Increase in the USA (2007 to 2016 data)

Source: (Important Facts about Falls | Home and Recreational Safety | CDC Injury Center, 2021)

Accidents are Equally Agitating

Every week or so, a car crash or general accident reaches the headlines of many newspapers and social media outlets. Accidents are common and it is about time that we discuss the extent of its ‘normality’.  Have any of your loved ones been in an accident?

Although it is Falls Prevention Week, we wish to shed more light on accidents as they are the second leading cause of TBIs amongst our users. According to the data, users have reported in the Power of Patients app, the majority of patients have reported that they have suffered from a TBI because of an accident, rather than a fall. We have thus decided to gather data to show you that accidents are equally concerning, if not more worrisome, as we are seeing that across our users, they are the leading cause of TBIs (as derived from the Power of Patients data warehouse). 

(Data pulled from the Power of Patient Data Warehouse)

(Data pulled from the Power of Patient Data Warehouse)

The causes of TBIs were evaluated using death certificates within a study conducted in 2006. According to this research, the underlying causes of death as detailed in these death certificates are as follows; falls (37%), traffic accidents (21%) and violence (11%) (Wrona, 2006). Although in this study it concludes that traffic accidents were the second leading cause of TBIs, our Power of Patients data is alluding to otherwise. Why could this be? 

After this study, TBI caused by falls became well-known in the medical profession and subsequently were named the title of being the ‘leading cause of TBIs’ after its 32% increase from previous studies and accidents seeing a decrease (Wrona, 2006). Although these statistics were not statistically significant, more fall-related awareness began to permeate households. 

With our more recent data, accidents merit the same awareness being given to falls. It is our hope to continue to understand the underlying causes of TBIs, as well as why we have seen this shift toward accidents being their number one cause (as derived from the Power of Patients Data Warehouse).

Prevention is Better than Cure

At Power of Patients, we truly believe in brain health recovery, as it is an essential component of an individual’s long-term wellbeing. In addition to helping our users with recovery, we also stress the importance of active prevention from the sustenance of injuries.

Motor vehicle accidents continue to dominate the accident-causing field, contributing to a large pool of TBI patients. Marking down the exact date of when your symptoms have begun, regardless of how minuscule they are, can help your doctor to treat you better. Our free dashboard helps with this process. Tracking your triggers, downloading a full report, and showing it to your doctor will provide you with the treatment you require to recover quicker.

Additional Resources

We have also compiled a few other websites you can take a look at in case you need additional information or aid.

  • Additional prevention measures for falls and accidents can be found here. It consists of some easy-to-follow tips. Although some of these tips seem rather simple, following them routinely is recommended.
  • Do your part and make a difference by joining a community-based program for individuals suffering from different conditions and for people of all age groups here. Additionally, you can initiate a program for your community as well.
  • Every second of every day, an elderly person (of age 65 and above) falls (Keep on Your Feet, 2020). Getting the appropriate training and education required by healthcare providers to immediately take the necessary action to reduce pain and prevent long-term aches is important. Training and resources can be found here. A toolkit and supplementary resources are also available on this website.

Author: Leanne Martis

Editors: Lynne Becker and Hannah Burgess

Bibliography

Alexander, B., Rivara, F., & Wolf, M. (1992). The cost and frequency of hospitalization for fall-related injuries in older adults | IHI - Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Retrieved 8 September 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1694056/

Falls Prevention Week. (2021). Retrieved 10 September 2021, from https://www.caregiver-aid.com/falls-prevention/

Florence, C., Bergen, G., Atherly, A., Burns, E., Stevens, J., & Drake, C. (2018). Medical Costs of Fatal and Nonfatal Falls in Older Adults. Retrieved 8 September 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29512120/

Hayes, W., Myers, E., Morris, J., Gerhart, T., Yett, H., & Lipsitz, L. (1993). Impact near the hip dominates fracture risk in elderly nursing home residents who fall. Retrieved 8 September 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8481831/

Important Facts about Falls | Home and Recreational Safety | CDC Injury Center. (2021). Retrieved 8 September 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

Jager, T., Weiss, H., Coben, J., & Pepe, P. (2000). Traumatic Brain Injuries Evaluated in U.S. Emergency Departments, 1992-1994. Retrieved 8 September 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10691071/

Keep on Your Feet. (2020). Retrieved 9 September 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/older-adult-falls/index.html

Parkkari, J., Kannus, P., Palvanen, M., Natri, A., Vainio, J., & Aho, H. et al. (1999). Majority of Hip Fractures Occur as a Result of a Fall and Impact on the Greater Trochanter of the Femur: A Prospective Controlled Hip Fracture Study with 206 Consecutive Patients. Retrieved 8 September 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10441647/

September is National Falls Prevention Month - Age Safe® America | Senior Home Safety | Aging in Place. (2016). Retrieved 8 September 2021, from https://agesafeamerica.com/september-national-falls-prevention-month/

The National Council on Aging. (2021). Retrieved 8 September 2021, from https://www.ncoa.org/professionals/health/center-for-healthy-aging/national-falls-prevention-resource-center/falls-prevention-awareness-week

Wrona, R. (2006). The use of state workers' compensation administrative data to identify injury scenarios and quantify costs of work-related traumatic brain injuries. Retrieved 8 September 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022437506000077