The current traumatic brain injury lawsuit against the NFL highlights the dangers of suffering a concussion, but a recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows senior citizens are also at risk.
Why? Even if they attempt to break the fall with their arms, seniors still hit their heads, this video study found. In fact, over 60 percent of hospital admissions for TBI are for seniors over the age of 65. That percentage increases for those over 80 years old.
For their 39-month, in-depth look at one particular nursing home, researchers set up cameras in common areas, such as lounges and hallways. They set out to determine how residents fell and which body part took the brunt of the impact. Cameras recorded 227 falls among an average of 133 residents.
In 37 percent of those falls, seniors hit their heads, often on the ground. Extending their arms did not help minimize the impact, since their arm muscles were too weak to offer any kind of support. Many residents also made contact with furniture on the way down or hit the wall. Thirty-three percent who hit their head sustained a range of injuries, including abrasions, bruises, cuts and fractures.
Researchers study mobility biomechanics with the hope that, with enough information, nursing homes can improve the way seniors navigate their environment by changing the layout of a room or by instituting exercise programs that improve seniors’ stability and balance.
So, you may wonder, can nursing homes and hospices be held liable for negligence in a traumatic brain injury lawsuit if they fail to provide a safer environment for residents? After all, the Centers for Disease Control has reported that falls account for approximately 95 percent of serious hip fractures. Learntofall.com has reported that “falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly,” and American Family Physician has reported that “falls account for 70 percent of accidental deaths in persons 75 years of age and older.”
“These studies and statistics highlight the need for nursing homes to take better precautions and be more vigilant,” says Christopher Mellino, a nursing home negligence attorney in Cleveland. “Making the decision to move a loved one into a home is heartwrenching enough. Filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit on that person’s behalf should never have to happen.”