Acquired brain injury (ABI), which includes traumatic (TBI) and non-traumatic brain injury (nTBI), is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. The objective of this study was to examine the trends, characteristics, cause of brain injury, and discharge destination of hospitalized older adults aged 65 years and older with an ABI diagnosis in a population with universal access to hospital care. The profile of characteristics of patients with TBI and nTBI causes of injury was also compared.
A population based retrospective cohort study design with healthcare administrative databases was used. Data on acute care admissions were obtained from the Discharge Abstract Database and patients were identified using the International Classification of Diseases – Version 10 codes for Ontario, Canada from April 1, 2003 to March 31, 2010. Older adults were examined in three age groups – 65 to 74, 75 to 84, and 85+ years.
From 2003/04 to 2009/10, there were 14,518 episodes of acute care associated with a TBI code and 51, 233 episodes with a nTBI code. Overall, the rate of hospitalized TBI and nTBI episodes increased with older age groups. From 2007/08 to 2009/10, the percentage of patients that stayed in acute care for 12 days or more and the percentage of patients with delayed discharge from acute care increased with age. The most common cause of TBI was falls while the most common type of nTBI was brain tumours. The percentage of patients discharged to long term care and complex continuing care increased with age and the percentage discharged home decreased with age. In-hospital mortality also increased with age. Older adults with TBI and nTBI differed significantly in demographic and clinical characteristics and discharge destination from acute care.
This study showed an increased rate of acute care admissions for both TBI and nTBI with age. It also provided additional support for falls prevention strategies to prevent injury leading to cognitive disability with costly human and economic consequences. Implications for increased numbers of people with ABI are discussed.