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J Trauma Manag Outcomes. 2009 Jul 30;3:9. doi: 10.1186/1752-2897-3-9.

Impact of falls on early mortality from severe traumatic brain injury.

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Department of Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, USA.



The causes of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) vary by age and other demographic characteristics. Mortality after trauma is higher for elderly than younger patients. This study is based on 2779 patients with severe TBI treated at 24 trauma centers enrolled in a New York State quality improvement program. The prospectively collected database includes information on age, sex, mechanism of injury, initial Glasgow Coma Scale score, blood pressure, pupillary assessment, and CT scan findings. This multi-center study was conducted to explore the impact of falls on early mortality from severe TBI among the elderly.


After exclusion criteria were applied, a total of 2162 patients were eligible for analysis. Falls contributed to 21% of all severe TBI, 12% occurring from > 3 meters and 9% from < 3 meters. Two-week mortality ranged from 18% due to injuries other than falls to 31% due to falls from < 3 meters (p =< 0.0001). Mortality after a severe TBI is much greater among older people, reaching 58% for people 65 years and older sustaining a fall from < 3 meters.


Among those 65 and older, falls contributed to 61% of all injuries and resulted in especially high mortality among individuals experiencing low falls. Preventive efforts directed toward older people to avoid falls from < 3 meters could have a significant impact on mortality.

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