We all fall, regardless of our age. It’s important to understand how physical changes as we age play a part in the increased risk for traumatic brain injury as the result of a fall.
About Brain Shrinkage
According to Dr. Kathleen Bell, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UT Southwestern Medical Center, ‘brain shrinkage’ is a factor in why seniors are at increased risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI) as the result of a fall. “As we age, our bodies start to shrink. The same goes for our brains. As the brain shrinks, more space is left between the brain and the skull. The blood vessels that connect the brain to the skill… also shrink and become tighter, thinner, and more susceptible to damage.” She goes on to add that a blow to the head after a fall can cause a slow blood leak called a subdural hematoma.
Sign of Traumatic Brain Injury
Seniors can show what are considered the classic symptoms of a concussion after a fall (headache, nausea, sensitivity to light). We also need to on the lookout for the following- confusion, memory loss, problems with balance, and bladder incontinence. She says “The appearance of these symptoms is one of the key indicators of brain damage. If these symptoms suddenly arise in an individual who seemed fine a week or two before, the symptoms could indicate TBI from a fall, vehicle accident, or other incident, and not from the natural aging process. ”
It’s important for seniors to be seen by a physician either in the office or emergency room if they have suffered a fall and begin to show signs of TBI.
Dr. Bell’s article can be found at https://utswmed.org/medblog/tbi-older-adults/.