In the United States, traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of disability and death, and plays a role in approximately 30 percent of fatal injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 40 percent of all head injury cases in the country are the result of slip-and-fall accidents, resulting in hospitalization, severe disability, and death. In fact, falls are the number one cause of head injuries, beating out motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries and assault.
Traumatic brain injury: The facts
The CDC defines traumatic brain injury as an injury that disturbs the normal brain functioning of a person who has received a significant blow or bump to the head. While some severe cases may result in lifelong disabilities or death, mild to moderate cases of TBI can cause visual, auditory, speech and emotional impairment. People affected by TBI may have difficulty thinking or recalling memories. Some may even lose their ability to move, and may have to relearn basic functioning.
Depending on the severity of the fall, as well as other specific details of the situation, the following may occur immediately or several months after the fall occurs, as reported by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:
- Skull fracture.
- Blood clots, contusions and bruises.
- Lacerations or tears in the front or temporal lobes.
- Nerve damage.
- Brain swelling, epilepsy or fever.
- Changes in cardiac, pulmonary or circulatory function.
A person recovering from a traumatic brain injury may have difficulties expressing themselves, understanding language or communicating with others.
While some slip-and-fall accidents may be caused by instability or unforeseen circumstances, other falls may result from another person’s or business’s negligence. Business and property owners have a responsibility to keep their property clear of hazards, including debris, ice and spills that might cause a person to fall. People can also fall on uneven sidewalks or curbs that are not clearly marked, electrical cords, loose gravel and polished floors. If a fall occurs, the property owner may be held liable, and the victim may be eligible for compensation for any medical expenses that they accrued as a result of the incident.
An estimated eight million people require emergency room treatment as the result of slip-and-fall accidents, according to the National Safety Council. More than half of children under the age of 14 years old and 81 percent of adults over the age of 65 years who receive brain injuries get them from falls. In an attempt to lower these devastating statistics, many national groups and organizations are working to educate business owners, property owners and pedestrians on what they can do to prevent falls, and traumatic brain injury.