Report: Brain injuries caused by falls killed 8,000 seniors

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Falls should be a leading concern for the elderly, but not necessarily for the reason many think. The damage can go far beyond a demobilizing broken hip or other bone, researchers said this week.

Almost 8,000 seniors died from brain injuries caused by falls and 56,000 other elderly individuals required related hospital care in 2005, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in the Journal of Safety Research that was released Monday.

"Most people think older adults may only break their hip when they fall, but our research shows that traumatic brain injuries can also be a serious consequence," said Dr. Ileana Arias, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. About half of seniors' 16,000 deaths from falls were attributed to brain injuries, researchers found.

Approximately 1 in 10 Americans 65 or older suffers a fall requiring medical treatment each year; the frequency is higher among the long-term care population. Arias said caregivers and the public can expect many more seniors' falls and brain injuries resulting in death or costly treatment in the coming years as the wave of baby boomers ages.