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Traumatic Brain Injury in the Elderly

Burden, Risk Factors, and Prevention

Krishnamoorthy, Vijay MD; Distelhorst, John T. DO; Vavilala, Monica S. MD; Thompson, Hilaire PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, CNRN, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/JTN.0000000000000135

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major public health problem, affecting millions of people each year worldwide. Elderly patients are at particularly high risk after sustaining a TBI due to higher degrees of mortality and functional disability compared with younger patients. In addition, the causative mechanisms of TBI in the elderly are shifting from motor vehicle collisions to falls. In this article, we will review the risk factors and mechanisms that predispose elderly patients to sustain a TBI. We will conclude by using a “Haddon's Matrix” approach to review current evidence-based prevention strategies directed at reducing the burden of TBI in the elderly.

Department of Anesthesiology (Dr Krishnamoorthy), Department of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics and Department of Neurological Surgery (Dr Vavilala), and Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems (Dr Thompson), Faculty of Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington; and Preventive Medicine Resident–Madigan Army Medical Center, Federal Way, Washington (Dr Distelhorst).

Correspondence: Vijay Krishnamoorthy, MD, Department of Anesthesiology, Faculty of Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific St, BB-1469, Seattle, WA 98195 (

All authors report no conflicts of interest.

Dr Krishnamoorthy is supported by an institutional training grant (National Research Service Award T32 GM086270).

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the US Government.

Copyright © 2015 by the Society of Trauma Nurses.