Outcomes from minor head trauma among the elderly

Patient in Wheelchair

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious health concern resulting in millions of deaths and disabilities worldwide each year. Most incidents of TBI result from traffic collisions, falls, and acts of interpersonal violence. Because elderly patients (older than 65 years) are prone to falling as a result of weakness and impaired coordination, they are at particularly high risk of sustaining TBI. Even a mild TBI (or concussion) can cause significant complications in elderly patients, who often experience other health problems that can interfere with recovery from TBI. As a result, researchers are motivated to understand the causes, patterns, and outcomes associated with TBI among members of this growing age group.

A recent study investigated concussion among 180 elderly patients who were admitted to an emergency department between 2016 and 2017. They analyzed hospital records and found that:

  • Most of the patients were injured from a fall.
  • On average, there was a four-hour time delay between injury and hospital admission.
  • Three patients were readmitted to the hospital within a week of discharge from the emergency department.
  • Fewer than 10 percent of patients experienced symptoms such as headache and vertigo during the recovery period.

Although short-term outcomes were positive, the researchers expressed concern that many of these patients were admitted to the hospital more than four hours after sustaining a head injury. Evidence suggests that immediate treatment is associated with improved outcomes, so further research is necessary to understand and prevent this significant time delay between injury and treatment.

Hosseininejad SM, Jahanian F, Goli-Khatir I, et al. Minor head trauma and its short-term outcomes among elderly patients: A prospective epidemiological study in north of Iran. Materia Socio-Medica. (September 2019).

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