A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that deaths from fall-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have increased. In 2008, there were about four fall-related TBI deaths per 100,000 people; in 2017, that number was closer to five.

Accidental falls are the second leading cause of TBI-related deaths, behind car accidents. So why have these numbers been steadily on the rise?

Correlation between falls and aging

With the sixth-largest state population in the country, Pennsylvania was among states with a significant increase in TBI-related deaths. Researchers see a correlation to age, as the rates increased more for Americans over age 75. Currently, 18.2 percent of the Keystone State’s population is over age 65, ranking eighth in senior population density behind Florida, Maine and West Virginia.

Medicine, like blood thinners for example, help seniors enjoy longer lives than previous generations but may contribute to TBI deaths. Blood thinners may help seniors avoid brain clots and heart attacks but increase their susceptibility to suffering a subdural hematoma (bleeding from the brain that is often associated with TBI).

Protections for older Americans

Doctors can assess their patients for fall risk and provide information and aids about slip and falls and TBI. If the risk is high enough, a doctor may suggest a personalized prevention plan. Exercise may help as well, as strengthening the core and lower limb muscles can help maintain one’s balance and prevent falls.

Doctors can also engage their patients with evidence-based fall prevention programs or studies.

Protect loved ones

Younger members of a family can do their part to help their parents and grandparents. For families dealing with the stress of a recent death or serious injury due to a slip and fall, a lawyer experienced in personal injury may help. They can answer questions about liability and assess a personal injury claim.