A chronic subdural hematoma is a gradual brain bleed that’s common in the elderly.

Can exercise bring this on, being that sometimes exercise involves jarring or erratic movements?

Perhaps you know that a whiplash-type movement of an elderly person’s head can actually cause a very slow bleeding in the brain: the chronic subdural hematoma.

The bleeding does not occur immediately, as would be the case of the far more life-threatening acute subdural hematoma.

A whiplash can result from a fender bender or even a fall in which the person’s head doesn’t even strike anything, but it gets jerked enough to tear a tiny blood vessel in the brain.

So maybe this has you thinking that you’re at risk for a chronic subdural hematoma if your older age is combined with some kind of physical activity that jars the body (and therefore head) around:

  • Horseback riding
  • Mini-trampolining
  • Dancing
  • Jumping (rope, jacks, box)
  • Running, jogging, skiing
  • Step aerobics class

Good News for Aging Exercisers

“I have not seen a chronic subdural hematoma on an elderly patient due to exercise,” says Charles Park, MD, neurosurgeon, and Director of The Minimally Invasive Brain and Spine Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.  “It’s usually due to a fall or head bumps.”

Dr. Park says it’s okay for people in the senior citizen age bracket to take aerobics classes, do jumping drills and the like.

A person age 60-plus is more likely to suffer a head injury falling off the horse than from the movement of sitting on one.

Senior age people should just be aware of the surface they are walking on (at stores, parking lots, slick floors at bowling centers) to prevent a slip/trip-and-fall — which could cause a head injury such as a subdural hematoma.

Meanwhile, they can exercise, jump and run to their heart’s content.

Dr. Park also points out, “Roller coaster with sudden change in direction is not recommended.”

The G forces involved here do not compare to those involved in exercise, including jumping on a mini-trampoline.

That sudden and fast change of direction can simulate a whiplash — leading to a slow brain bleed.

Dr. Park specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques for treatment of conditions affecting the brain and spine. He’s skilled in advanced procedures and techniques that utilize innovative computer technology and image-guided surgery systems.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/Mladen Zivkovic