OLDER PEOPLE AT HIGHER RISK FOR BRAIN INJURY

We blogged recently about the accident that killed Dr. John Nash (featured in A Beautiful Mind).  In that blog we highlighted risk-factors that make older Americans more susceptible to brain injuries:

Older Americans and particularly susceptible to closed head injuries in both falls and motor vehicle accidents.  A couple of factors contribute to this vulnerability.

A subdural hematoma develops when the tiny veins that run between the dura and surface of the brain (bridging veins) tear and leak blood. This is usually the result of a head injury.

A collection of blood then forms over the surface of the brain. In a chronic subdural collection, blood leaks from the veins slowly over time, or a fast hemorrhage is left to clear up on its own.

A subdural hematoma is more common in the elderly because of normal brain shrinkage that occurs with aging. This shrinkage stretches and weakens the bridging veins. These veins are more likely to break in the elderly, even after a minor head injury.

In addition, long-term use of aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, or blood thinning (anticoagulant) medication such as warfarin can increase both likelihood and severity of a subdural hematoma or other head injury.

These concerns played out in a recent accident.

An 80-year-old Port Townsend woman was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center with a head injury after a three-car accident occurred Wednesday afternoon, June 3 on Sims Way at Kearney Street in Port Townsend. Other occupants of the vehicles were shaken up but unhurt, according to a press release sent from East Jefferson Fire Rescue (EJFR).

It’s great that first responders recognized the brain injury and the woman received help right away (particularly important when there is a subdural hematoma .  Even in what might seem like a minor motor vehicle accident a person with a brain injury has a potentially major claim.

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