Head injuries: a complex problem with a convenient treatment solution
Accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Tripping over stairs, falling while getting out of the tub, or taking a spill while on a bike ride can easily lead to a head injury, especially for seniors who may not be able to move around as easily or react as quickly as they once did. If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one in your household, you can rely on DispatchHealth for prompt head injury treatment in the convenience of your own home.
DispatchHealth provides on-call medical services from experienced and skilled healthcare professionals. When you call on us, we’ll send a fully equipped medical team to your home. This team will include a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, a DispatchHealth medical technician (DHMT), and an emergency room (ER) physician who is available by phone. We are able to evaluate and treat many of the same non-life-threatening head injuries that an ER can, but do so at a small fraction of the cost. Plus, our approach doesn’t involve a crowded waiting room and an uncomfortable clinical environment — just the comfort and familiarity of home.
When to seek treatment for a head injury
The rules of head injuries typically apply to all age groups. If you or your elderly loved one has sustained any type of head injury, it’s always a good idea to seek professional medical care to ensure no serious damage has occurred. It is particularly important to consult a medical professional if your loved one’s head injury is accompanied by:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Concentration problems
- Memory loss
- Temporary ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Mild confusion
It’s important to note that some head injuries do warrant a trip to the hospital ER. Call 911 immediately if someone around you has a head injury that is accompanied by marked confusion, uncontrolled bleeding, seizures, slurred speech, dysfunctional eye movement, severe vomiting, or loss of consciousness.
Why are head injuries so common in seniors?
The body’s natural aging process is to blame for the heightened risk of head injury that seniors face. As we age, many key aspects of our health deteriorate, including our sense of vision, muscle reflexes, and nerve function. This sharply increases the risk of slip-and-fall accidents, which are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in seniors. Pre-existing medical conditions like multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease can also impact a person’s ability to move around safely.
Help prevent head injuries at home
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in three seniors will have a fall accident this year. While it’s impossible to stop the aging process and completely eliminate all risk of injury, there are plenty of steps you can take to help ensure your elderly loved one remains safe, healthy, and happy at home. Consider:
- Installing grab bars and railings. Have grab bars or handrails installed around toilets, in tubs, along stairs, and in other tricky-to-maneuver areas.
- Ensuring all hallways and rooms are properly lit. Needless to say, walking in dark areas isn’t safe for anyone. Change burnt-out light bulbs and invest in a few more lamps, if necessary.
- Removing clutter and tripping hazards. Keeping your elderly loved one safe is a good incentive to pick up clutter. Getting rid of or moving unnecessary foot stools, chairs, and tables may also be a good idea.
- Purchasing non-slip shoes or grippy socks. Walking around barefoot or with normal socks can increase the risk of a fall. Encourage your loved one to wear non-slip socks or comfortable shoes with plenty of grip.
- Choosing your mats and rugs carefully. Make sure every rug or mat in your house has a non-slip pad laid beneath it or has a non-slip bottom.
- Making home modifications. If your budget allows, try making a few home modifications. Putting in non-slip flooring, installing easy-to-reach storage, and swapping a traditional bathtub for a walk-in tub can go a long way toward preventing falls.
Additionally, make sure your loved one wears appropriate headwear when riding a bike or engaging in other types of physical activity. It’s also a good idea to speak with a physician to receive more individualized advice on how to prevent falls based on your loved one’s unique needs. Physicians often recommend physical therapy to increase strength and coordination, as well as canes and other walking aids to further lower the risk of slip-and-fall accidents.
If a head injury is left untreated
It’s tough to predict how a senior will react to an untreated head injury. Potential side effects and complications will depend on the type of head injury sustained, its severity, and the health of the individual. As a general rule of thumb, play it safe. Always consult a medical professional following a head injury, especially one that occurs to an adult over 65.
DispatchHealth stands ready to provide in-home treatment to your elderly loved one following an accident. Our team is equipped to take X-rays, prescribe medication, perform minor procedures, take blood work, and provide a variety of other important health services in your home. We can also address injuries that stem from pre-existing conditions like multiple sclerosis and provide guidance on how to manage symptoms going forward. Once we administer appropriate treatment, we’ll promptly send a detailed medical report to your loved one’s primary care physician and/or assisted living provider to help ensure continuity of care and take one thing off of your (very full) plate.
Head injury treatment is a click away with DispatchHealth. To request care for an elderly loved one, call us today or use our app or website. We accept most insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, and offer competitive self-pay rates.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Phil Mitchell MD, MS on October 3rd, 2019