The total number of spinal cord injuries in the United States has remained more or less the same over the past few decades. However, that data can be deceiving, according to a study conducted at Vanderbilt University. According to their findings, a lot of changes lurk beneath those seemingly unchanged statistics. The important thing to consider is who exactly is sustaining these catastrophic injuries, and what accidents are causing them. Research indicates that spinal cord injuries have been increasing among the elderly at the same time that they have been decreasing among the younger population.
In the decade between 1993 and 2012, the rate of spinal cord injury for young people (ages 16-24) dropped by almost 40 percent. However, during that same time, the number of spine injuries among the elderly increased by a little over 40 percent. The reason, according to researchers, is that the leading cause for spinal cord injuries is different for these two age groups.
Spinal Cord Injuries Are On the Rise in the Elderly Community
Car accidents are among the leading causes of spinal cord injuries in the younger demographic. The decrease in spine injuries doesn’t necessarily mean that teens and young adults are getting into fewer car crashes, it just means that cars and seat belts have gotten safer. When car accidents do happen, the risk of spinal cord injury is reduced. However, safer cars have not led to a decrease in the number of injuries among the elderly for the very good reason that the leading cause of spinal cord damage among older adults is not car accidents.
Instead, slip and fall accidents contribute to the most spinal cord injuries among the elderly, and they are increasing. A fall can result from any number of factors, including loose objects on the floor, untied or loose shoes and even out-of-date prescriptions for glasses. Some disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, can make walking and balancing more difficult for the elderly as well. Researchers also believe that the increased use of smart phones among the elderly community could be causing extra distractions while walking, leading to even more accidents.
One of the best ways to prevent spinal cord injuries is to raise awareness. Fixing loose carpeting or moving unnecessary objects out of walkways can eliminate tripping hazards. Canes and walkers should always be kept stable and in good repair as well. Sometimes, a simple railing or helping hand can be enough to steady a person, preventing a fall and painful spinal cord injuries.
Stanley A. Davis is a Nashville personal injury lawyer who has helped victims win significant verdicts and settlements for spinal cord injuries.
1 Timothy 5:1-2 “Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.”