Objective: To examine the epidemiologic and clinical characteristics of older persons (ie, those aged 65-74, 75-84, and > or = 85 years) hospitalized with traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Methods: Data from the 1999 CDC 15-state TBI surveillance system were analyzed.
Results: In 1999, there were 17,657 persons 65 years and older hospitalized with TBI in the 15 states for an age-adjusted rate of 155.9 per 100,000 population. Rates among persons aged 65 years or older increased with age and were higher for males. Most TBIs resulted from fall- or motor vehicle (MV)-traffic-related incidents. Most older persons with TBI had an initial TBI severity of mild (73.4%); however, the proportions of both moderate and severe disability for those discharged alive and of in-hospital mortality were relatively high (23.5%, 9.7%, and 12%, respectively). Persons who fell were also more likely to have had 3 or more comorbid conditions than were those who sustained a TBI from an MV-traffic incident.
Conclusions: TBI is a substantial public health problem among older persons. As the population of older persons continues to increase in the United States, the need to design and implement proven and cost-effective prevention measures that focus on the leading causes of TBI (unintentional falls and MV-traffic incidents) becomes more urgent.