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As we get older, we become less flexible and more brittle. Seemingly minor accidents—which, in our younger years, we could quickly recover from—can now lead to more serious injury.

As an older adult, you may already realize that your bones can break more easily than they could before. A slip in the grocery store could land you in the hospital with a broken hip. However, you may not realize that a simple stumble could also result in traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Brain anatomy

The human brain—like other parts of the human body—begins to shrink with age. Brain shrinkage has no effect on cognition or intelligence. However, a smaller brain is more vulnerable to injury.

Your brain is held in place by fine, follicle-like connectors called bridging veins. As your brain shrinks, these veins must stretch further to reach from your skull to your brain. Consequently, they become thinner and weaker—and more prone to injury. If you fall and hit your head as an older adult, these veins could become damaged and bleed. Left unnoticed and untreated, such injuries could be fatal.

Recognizing the symptoms

Traumatic brain injury may not be something you expect following a tumble. However, slip-and-fall accidents are actually the top producer of TBI in the United States—and four-fifths of such injuries affect retirement-age adults.

If you or a loved one suffers a serious fall, it’s important to be alert to the symptoms of TBI:

  • Sudden fogginess or confusion
  • Sudden memory loss—or worsening thereof
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Balancing difficulties

If you notice the above symptoms, seek medical help right away. If you sustain a head injury due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important to understand the full extent of your injuries—in order to claim complete compensation.