Spinal Cord Injuries On The Rise

Spinal cord injuries are a tragic, costly and disabling, if not lethal, occurrence. A new study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma by a team of surgery research fellows from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have revealed that the number of spinal cord injuries are on the rise in the United States, especially among the elderly. While the most common cause of spinal cord injury was originally thought to be car accidents, this new study shows that it is actually falls, especially those in the elderly. Having narrowed down those most at risk, researchers believe that there is much to be done by way of prevention of spinal cord injuries.

Spinal Cord Injuries 2007-2009

For this particular study the team of researchers reviewed and analyzed a of more than 43,000 patients who were treated in the United States for spinal cord injury between the years 2007 and 2009. Spinal cord injuries among those between the ages of 18 and 64 actually decreased from 52 per million to 49 per million between the given years. On the other hand, the number of spinal cord injuries among those 65 or older increased from 79 per million to 87 million between 2007 and 2009. Looking at the three year period, falls were the number one cause of spinal cord injury with 41% while car crashes were second with 35%. Among injuries experienced by the elderly, spinal cord injuries increased to 30 percent. Prior this study the average age of adults who experienced a spinal cord injury was 41. It is now 51.

Unfortunately, older adults who suffer a spinal cord injury are four times more likely to die in the emergency room than younger adults, and six times more likely to die in inpatient stay.

There was much speculation among researchers as to why falls are now more responsible than car accidents for spinal cord injuries. Some theories include:

  • More active lifestyles by Americans who are over 65.

  • Improved seatbelt and airbag laws that make it more likely to survive a car crash.

  • The general aging of the population.

In addition to all the personal turmoil spinal cord injuries bring about, they are also a huge financial burden, both on the families involved and the health care system. These costs increased by 20% during the three year study period. Not to mention that a spinal cord injury can often affect the care a person will need for the rest of their life. A lifetime of care can range from $1 million to $5 million, depending on the age and severity of the injury.

The study has determined that the best option for treating this rise in spinal cord injuries is prevention. The National Institute of Health is currently funding a search for more effective ways to prevent falls in the elderly.

If you or a loved one was the victim of a spinal cord injury because the negligence of another call the McMinn Law Firm today and get the representation you require.