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Concussions in Nursing Homes: Risks, Prevention, and Legal Recourse

A nursing home resident rests in bed while holding her head in pain.

Head injuries can be a sign of nursing home neglect.

When older individuals and their families make the decision to entrust their care to nursing homes, it's often with the hope of providing a safe haven where seniors can cherish their golden years in comfort. However, within these nursing facilities, residents are vulnerable to various risks, including concussions resulting from preventable accidents, many of which can be attributed to neglect and abuse.

Identifying the risks

In Georgia and throughout the U.S., concussions in nursing homes can be attributed to several underlying factors, with head injuries frequently arising due to the following causes:

  • Falls: Nursing home residents, due to their age and other factors, are prone to falls, often leading to head injuries, including concussions. This risk is exacerbated in elderly individuals with frail bones and issues concerning balance and coordination.
  • Hazardous environments: Clutter, poorly maintained floors, and obstructed walkways within nursing homes elevate the likelihood of residents tripping and sustaining concussions. Such accidents can result from impacts with objects or hard surfaces.
  • Understaffing: Understaffed nursing homes can lead to delayed responses to residents' needs, particularly those with limited mobility. When insufficient staff is available to assist residents safely or respond to emergencies promptly, the risk of concussions increases.

Preventive measures

Concussions in nursing homes are preventable, and it is critical for facilities to prioritize the safety and well-being of their residents. Facilities and staff can adopt the following proactive measures to help protect residents from falls and concussions:

  • Installation of handrails: Handrails can offer crucial support and stability, especially to residents with mobility issues.
  • Adequate staffing: Employing a sufficient number of well-trained staff members ensures timely assistance and care for residents.
  • Accessible call lights: Residents must have easy access to call lights to request help promptly.
  • Routine fall risk assessments: Regular assessments of residents' fall risks allow for tailored preventive measures.
  • Maintaining a safe environment: Nursing homes should maintain clutter-free, hazard-free environments to minimize fall-related accidents.

Concussion signs and symptoms

Recognizing a concussion following a fall or blow to the head in a nursing home can be challenging due to the absence of visible symptoms. However, concussions can result in various moderate to severe injuries in elderly individuals, such as bruising, ruptured blood vessels, nerve damage, or loss of consciousness. Additional indicators of a concussion include:

  • Change in behavior: Look for any sudden shifts in mood or temperament, such as increased irritability or agitation.
  • Confusion: Noticeable disorientation, trouble focusing, or difficulty recognizing familiar faces or places.
  • Balance issues: Frequent stumbling, unsteady walking, or problems with coordination.
  • Memory problems: Difficulty recalling recent events, conversations, or appointments.
  • Headache: Frequent or severe headaches, which may worsen with time.
  • Nausea or vomiting: Persistent feelings of nausea or episodes of vomiting unrelated to other health issues.
  • Blurred vision: Sudden trouble with vision, including double vision or difficulty focusing.
  • Slurred speech: Difficulty speaking clearly, slurring words, or trouble forming coherent sentences.
  • Sleep disturbances: Changes in sleep patterns, such as excessive sleepiness or difficulty falling and staying asleep.
  • Weakness or numbness: A sudden loss of strength or numbness, especially on one side of the body.
  • Seizures: Unexplained seizures or convulsions should be taken seriously.
  • Sensitivity to light or noise: An increased sensitivity to light (photophobia) or noise (phonophobia).
  • Loss of consciousness: Brief or prolonged loss of consciousness, even for a few seconds, should not be ignored.
  • Fatigue: Unusual tiredness or a constant feeling of exhaustion.
  • Dizziness: Experiencing persistent dizziness or feeling lightheaded.
  • Personality changes: Noticeable alterations in personality traits, preferences, or interests.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Struggling to focus on tasks or hold a conversation.
  • Emotional changes: Rapid mood swings, heightened emotional sensitivity, or increased anxiety or depression.
  • Severe or increasing symptoms: Any of the above symptoms becoming more severe or rapidly worsening.

Filing a claim for a nursing home concussion

It's important to talk to a nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible if your loved one suffered a concussion in a nursing home. You may be able to file a lawsuit to obtain justice, accountability, and compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages caused by the concussion.

Contact a Georgia nursing home neglect lawyer today

At the Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC in Decatur, Georgia, we understand the impact that nursing home concussions can have on residents and their families. With over 20 years of experience, Attorney George S. Johnson takes pride in advocating for the rights of nursing home abuse and neglect victims and their loved ones throughout Georgia

If your loved one has suffered a concussion in a Georgia nursing home due to negligence, our dedicated legal team is here to provide you with the legal support and guidance you deserve. Contact our firm today for a free and confidential consultation.

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