Introduction During 2014, unintentional falls was one of the most common mechanisms of injury contributing to a traumatic brain injury (TBI)-related death and accounted for 29% of all TBI-related deaths in the U.S. Current information on national and state trends and decedent characteristics for this type of health event is lacking.
Methods The national incidence of TBI-related deaths attributable to falls was determined by analyzing the multiple-cause-of-death files within the National Vital Statistics System. A death was determined to be TBI-related if any of the multiple-cause-of-death codes listed in the death record indicated a TBI-related diagnosis. TBI-related deaths attributed to unintentional falls were identified based on the single underlying-cause-of-death, specifically ICD-10 codes W00-W19, listed in each death record. Annual incidence rates were calculated per 100,000 population and age-adjusted to the U.S. year 2000 standard age distribution. Data years 2008–2017 were selected to produce 10-year age-adjusted national and state-specific trends that were modeled using the National Cancer Institute Joinpoint Regression Program. Estimated rate trends are reported in the form of average annual percentage changes accompanied by 95% confidence intervals. National rate trends of TBI-related deaths attributed to falls were analyzed by sex, age group, ethnicity/race, and level of urbanization.
Results During 2017, there were 17,408 TBI-related deaths attributed to unintentional falls in the U.S. From 2008 to 2017, there was a 17% increase in the national rate of TBI-related deaths due to falls. Analysis of decedent characteristics revealed the fastest-growing rates of this specific health event were among older adults aged ≥75 years and persons living in non-core, non-metropolitan counties. At the state level, rates of TBI-related deaths due to falls increased significantly for 29 states from 2008–2017.
Conclusion The rising national rate of TBI-related deaths due to falls highlights an emerging priority area for prevention. Targeted interventions to reduce incidence of this health event, especially among older adults and those living in non-metropolitan counties is needed.
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