Background: traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant public health problem. Developed countries report a significant increase of TBI in older adults in the past decades. The objective of this study was to investigate the changes in TBI-related mortality in older Austrians (65 years or older) between 1980 and 2012 (33 years) and to identify possible causes for these changes.
Methods: data from Statistics Austria on mortality in Austria between 1980 and 2012 were screened and data on TBI-related mortality in adults aged 65 and older were extracted and analysed, based on the diagnostic codes of the International Classification of Diseases, 10th and 9th revision. Mortality rates were calculated for 5-year age groups; standardized mortality rates were calculated for the total. Mechanism of injury was analysed for all events, both sexes and individual age groups.
Results: between 1980 and 2012, 16,204 people aged 65 or older died from TBI in Austria; 61% of these were male. Fatal TBI cases and mortality rates increased in the oldest age groups (80 years or older). Half of the fatal TBI cases were caused by falls, 22% by traffic accidents and 17% by suicides. Rate of fall-related fatal TBI increased and rate of traffic accident-related fatal TBI decreased with age.
Conclusion: preventive measures introduced in the past decades in the developed countries have contributed to a decrease in traffic injuries. However, falls in the older population are on the rise, mainly due to ageing of the population, throughout the reported period. It is important to take preventive measures to stop the epidemics of fall-related TBIs and fatalities in older adults.
Keywords: age; epidemiology; mortality rate; older people; sex; traumatic brain injury deaths.
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