Spinal cord injuries: Risk factors and impacts

Trauma to the spinal cord can produce long-lasting impacts that can completely change a person’s life. While these injuries aren’t very common, there are around 11,000 spinal cord injuries (SCI) in this country per year. The National Spinal Cord Injury Association estimates that there are as many as 450,000 individuals living with this type of injury.

Many different types of incidents can lead to spinal cord injuries. These include falls, motor vehicle accidents and sports contact. Reducing the likelihood of an SCI occurring can be complicated since there are so many factors that might contribute to them.

Risk factors vary

Around 53.1 percent of injuries happen to people who are 16 to 30. This means that people in this age group are more likely to suffer an injury than those in all other ages groups combined.

In all age groups, motor vehicle accidents, falls and gunshots are the three most common causes of the injury. Diving accidents, motorcycle crashes and medical or surgical complications are also common.

Men are more commonly impacted by a spinal cord injury. Around 81.2 percent of all reported injuries to the spine are in males. That jumps to 89.8 percent when you only look at injuries related to sports.

These sports-related injuries are more common in people who are under 29 years old. People who are over 65 suffer more SCIs in falls than any other cause, but people younger than this suffer more of these injuries in motor vehicle accidents than any other cause.

Impacts of a spinal cord injury

The impacts of a spinal cord injury depend on the type of the injury and the place on the spine that is injured. It is possible to have an injury that still enables you to have feeling and function below the level of the damage, but this isn’t the most common type. This type is known as an incomplete injury.

Nearly 60 percent of spinal cord injuries result in the loss of sensation and function below the damage. These are known as complete injuries. This is the type of injury that is commonly associated with paralysis.

Getting prompt medical care is important if you suspect you have an injury to your spinal cord. This can help to prevent further damage and might reduce the impact of the current injury. Seeking compensation for the financial impacts of the accident might help you to hold the person who caused the accident accountable.

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