Traumatic Brain Injury in Older Adults

Traumatic Brain Injury in Older Adults (Preventing Falls as We Age

The devastating effects of a fall can often be life changing and even result in death.  Understanding why we fall, such as risk factors, and preventative measures, were the topics of discussion on the radio show called Living Well.   Dr. Joseph Maroon and Jeff Bost PAC have now co-hosted Living Well for the last 18 months every Saturday morning at 8:30 on 95.7 and 99.3 FM, 1230 WBVP, 1460 WMBA, and online podcast at

Use the media PLAY button below to listen to the 30 minute record Broadcast of Living Well on Falls in Older Adults. 

Here are some of the highlights of the Show on Falls and Brain Trauma in the Elderly:


  • More than 80,000 ED visits each year in those 65 and older
  • 75% of these require hospitalization
  • Those 75 and older have highest rates of hospitalization and death
  • 80,000 deaths annually
  • TBI-related deaths are 1/3 of all trauma related deaths
  • Falls are the most common cause of TBI, and falling poses an especially serious risk for older adults.
  • According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 4 Americans ages 65 and over reports falling each year.
  • Falls lead to 3 million emergency department visits per year.
  • The number of deaths from falls is rising

Aging and the Brain – What Changes?

  • Reduction in cerebral perfusion (blood flow) and metabolism
  • Age-related cerebral atrophy (Brain Shrinkage) results from Loss of neurons
  • Loss of synapses (Brain Connections)
  • Decrease in synthesis of BDNF (nerve growth factor), making neuronal repair more difficult.
  • Reduced neuroplasticity (Brain cell new connections) during recovery.
  • Vessels are more likely to be exposed to shearing forces and can bleed with even minor trauma

Risk Factors Associated with Falls in Elderly

  • Diminished Mobility
  • Functional loss (arthritis and other joint problems)
  • Memory/cognitive problems
  • Sensory impairments
  • Underlying Health problems

Ways to Reduce Senior Fall Risk

  • Decluttering key areas & improve lighting
  • Regular exercise to build strength, balance, and flexibility
  • Regular medical check-ups including eye doctor
  • Treat or manage hearing/vision problems (Use your Glasses and Hearing aids)
  • Use properly-fitted walkers and canes correctly
  • Wear comfortable, supportive, properly-fitted shoes and slippers with non-slip soles

Assistive Devices to Prevent Falls

  • Use assistive devices, Ask your doctor if you might walk better with a cane or walker to keep you steady
  • Hand rails for both sides of stairways
  • Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
  • A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
  • Grab bars for the shower or tub
  • A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down

Summary: Falls can be prevented.  Always tell your healthcare professional if you have fallen. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Listen weekly for more health tips every Saturday at 8:30 am on Living Well Radio Show, with Dr. Joseph Maroon and Jeff Bost PAC at 8:30 on 95.7 and 99.3 FM, 1230 WBVP, 1460 WMBA, and online at Podcast archives are also available HERE