Close this search box.

Hidden Risk of Traumatic Brain Injury in Older Americans

San Francisco, California – A recent study published in JAMA Network Open reveals that 13% of older Americans are diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI), primarily due to fall-related injuries. 

Conducted by UC San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Health Care System, the research followed approximately 9,200 Medicare enrollees with an average age of 75. The findings indicate that older adults who are healthier, wealthier, white, and female are at a higher risk of TBI, contrary to previous studies focused on younger populations.

The study, led by Dr. Erica Kornblith of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, analyzed TBI claims from participants in the Health and Retirement Study for up to 18 years. It was observed that 64% of those diagnosed with TBI were female, and 89% were white. Additionally, a significant portion of those affected were in the highest wealth quartile. 

Dr. Raquel Gardner, the study’s senior author, emphasized the need for evidence-based guidelines to improve post-discharge care for the large Medicare population with TBI. The research highlights the importance of preventing post-TBI dementia and repeated injuries.

While physical activity is generally recommended for neuroprotection, Dr. Gardner, now at Sheba Medical Center, stressed the need for safety measures to prevent falls. This is especially important as older adults accumulate physical or cognitive disabilities.

This study underscores the complex factors influencing TBI risk among older adults and calls for tailored strategies to address these vulnerabilities.

Follow Us