Why are TBIs potentially more serious for older people?

Any time someone strikes their head on a hard surface, it’s critical to get a medical evaluation to check for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even a relatively mild TBI can be dangerous if not diagnosed and treated quickly. For seniors, however, a TBI is more likely to be serious – and potentially even fatal – than for a younger person.

While TBIs can occur as a result of car crashes, violent attacks and after being struck with an object, over 80% of people 65 and over suffer TBIs in falls. While many falls occur in a person’s own home, too many of them are caused by the negligence of property owners to fix potentially dangerous conditions – even simple maintenance like cleaning up a spill or keeping the walkways and parking lots as free from ice and snow in the winter as possible.

Changes in the brain over time

So, what is it about seniors’ brains that makes TBIs potentially more serious for them? In a word – shrinkage. Specifically, as people age, they shrink. It may not be noticeable unless you haven’t seen someone for many years, but it is happening. That includes the brain.

That shrinkage may have little or no effect on a person’s cognition, memory or the ability to learn unless there are other issues going on in the brain. However, it does mean that there’s more space in between the brain and the skull, so the skull offers less protection.

Further, the veins between the brain and the skull shrink and tighten, so they’re more easily damaged. Thus, an injury is more likely to cause bleeding – known as a subdural hematoma. If a person is taking medications like blood thinners for high blood pressure or anti-inflammatory medications, that can increase the bleeding. The sooner a subdural hematoma is diagnosed and treatment can begin, the better a person’s chances are of survival.

If a senior suffers a TBI due to someone else’s actions or negligence, holding that party liable can help them cover the cost of the medical care they need and any rehabilitation they need afterwards. Remember that it doesn’t matter whether a senior’s TBI victim’s injuries are more serious than a younger person’s might have been. What matters is holding the appropriate party(ies) responsible. Getting experienced legal guidance as soon as possible can help you or a loved one get fair compensation.

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