March Report Shows Increase in TBI Deaths From Falls

10 Mar, 2020 F.J. Thomas


Atlanta, GA ( – March Is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and the second leading cause of TBI deaths, with motor vehicle accidents ranking first. According to the March Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of fall related TBI deaths has increased, and significantly among all age groups in 29 states.

From 2008–2017, the number of TBI related deaths resulting from falls increased overall by 17 percent,  with the largest increase seen in persons over the age of 75. In 2008 the total number of fall related TBI deaths was 12,311 for all age categories. That number increased to 17,408 in 2017.

Persons over the age of 75 were eight times more likely to die from a fall related TBI than those aged 55-74. The same odds for that age group were seen across both males and females, and in all levels of urbanization. In 2008, there were 7,836 fall related TBI deaths in persons over the age of 75. That number increased to 11,452 in 2017. The next age category 55-74, experienced 2,855 deaths in 2008 and increased to 4,470 in 2017. A notable decrease in the number of fall related TBI deaths occurred in persons aged 0 to 17 years, which was down 4.3 percent, from 75 deaths in 2008 to 54 in 2017. The next age category saw a small decrease as well. In 2008 there were 304 deaths for ages 18 to 34. In 2017, the total decreased to 295.

Urbanization was a factor as well. Rural areas had a larger increase in the fall related TBI mortality rate than more developed areas. The report attributed the variations in state death rates to differences in rural and urban areas, as access to resources such as trauma centers and rehabilitative services can impact post-injury outcomes. In 2008, in areas classified as largely metropolitan, there were 3,320 deaths compared to 4,604 in 2017. In comparison, rural areas classified as Noncore (non-metro) had 899 deaths in 2008. In 2017, that total rose to 1,280.

The largest average annual percent changes occurred in Maine at 6.5 percent, South Dakota with 6.1 percent and Oklahoma with 5.2 percent. A total of 21 states saw no significant change in death rates.

You can access the full MMWR report on the CDC website.

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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