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Study: falls are now the leading cause of spinal cord injuries

According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins, serious spinal cord injuries are becoming more common in the United States. During the study, the emergency room records of 43,137 adults treated between 2007 and 2009 were examined. The researchers found that the number of patients seeking treatment for spinal cord injuries increased during this three-year period.

Although spinal cord injuries were mainly caused by car accidents in the past, the study also discovered that falls are now the leading cause of such injuries. Overall, the study found that approximately 36 percent of spinal cord injuries during this time were caused by car accidents, compared to 42 percent caused by falls.

The study found that the biggest growth in spinal cord injuries occurred among older adults. The incidence of such injuries among those over 65 years old increased from 79.4 injuries per million in 2007 to 87.7 injuries per million in 2009. As a comparison, the number of injuries among those aged 18 to 64 actually decreased modestly during this period.

The researchers attribute the growth of spinal cord injuries among the elderly primarily to an increase in the number of falls in this age group. In the above-65 group, the number of injuries caused by falls increased from 23.6 percent to 30 percent in the 2007-2009 period. Since the elderly are more likely to fall in general, experts speculate that falls will continue to be a leading cause of spinal cord injuries as the general population continues to age.

Spinal Cord Injuries Can Be Devastating

The function that the spinal cord plays in the body is to relay messages between the brain and many of the body’s most vital systems. As the spinal cord is the brain’s connection to the muscular, urinary, gastrointestinal and respiratory systems, any damage can potentially jeopardize the proper functioning of these systems.

The effect that an injury to the spinal cord has on the body depends heavily on the location and severity of the injury. Some of the common conditions that can develop are loss of bowel or bladder control, difficulty moving or paralysis, and difficulty breathing. As there is currently no way to reverse damage to the spinal cord, those suffering an injury are often left with long-term or permanent conditions.

In addition to persistent symptoms, sufferers can also be saddled with hefty medical bills. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment for spinal cord injuries can cost between $500,000 and $3 million over a lifetime.

According to the Mayo Clinic, most spinal cord injuries are caused by falls, sports accidents, car accidents or assault. Unfortunately, many of these causes occur because someone was acting carelessly or negligently. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury from someone’s negligence—whether it is someone texting while driving or failing to keep their sidewalk in a safe condition—contact an experienced personal personal injury attorney. An attorney can assist you in recovering compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and loss of personal property that you are entitled to under California law.