Falls among elderly people and car crashes are among the significant causes of many major injuries in Ohio and around the nation. Contrary to what some may believe, falls are actually the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, outdistancing car accidents. Statistics also indicate that the number of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. has been rising.
A research study looked at over 43,000 adults who suffered traumatic spinal cord injuries. The data was collected by examining treatment records from hospital emergency rooms in the years 2007 through 2009. The big increase in spinal cord injuries in those years was among those who were age 65 or older, with it spiking from approximately 79 injuries per million people to almost 88 spinal cord injuries per million people.
The study found that 41.5 percent of the studied spinal cord injuries were caused by falls, with a significantly lower 35.5 percent caused by car accidents. For the elderly, spinal cord injuries can be especially deadly, with a 400 percent greater likelihood of the victim dying than younger patients. Among seniors fully admitted into a hospital following a serious spinal cord injury, the likelihood of dying was approximately 600 percent greater than deaths among similarly situated younger patients.
During the study period, researchers also estimated that the cost of spinal cord injuries totaled around $1.6 billion, with the cost skyrocketing by 20 percent, a figure said to be outrunning the pace of inflation. Researchers emphasized that many spinal cord injuries are preventable, particularly by taking additional precautions against falls by the elderly.
Source: HealthDay, “Falls top car crashes as leading cause of U.S. spinal injuries” No author given, Jan. 28, 2014