Spinal cord injuries, one of the most debilitating injuries that can afflict a person, are becoming increasingly more common across the nation, according to new research that was recently published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. The research, carried out by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, examined the emergency room records of 43,137 adults that were treated for spinal cord injuries between 2007 and 2009.

During this period of time, the research discovered that:

  • Spinal cord injuries increased among older Americans. In 2007, approximately 79 per million spinal cord injuries occurred among those 65 or older; in 2009, this had increased to 88 per million.
  • Younger people that are between 18 and 64 are suffering fewer spinal cord injuries-from 52 per million in 2007 to 49 per million in 2009.
  • 41.5 percent of the spinal cord injuries were caused by falls.
  • Due to the increase in the elderly population, the average age of spinal cord injury sufferers increased from 41 in 2007 to 51 two years later.

Since car accidents were by far the leading cause of spinal cord injuries for decades, the finding that falls caused more was especially surprising. Although there are likely many reasons for this change, the study's researchers speculated that improvements in car safety (i.e. better safety features and seatbelt laws) were the chief reason.

Consequences of spinal cord injuries

Due to the spinal cord's role in the body, spinal cord injuries are likely the worst type of back injury. Since the spinal cord is responsible for relaying messages between the brain and the urinary, muscular, digestive and other vital bodily systems, any time that it is damaged can lead to paralysis and other catastrophic consequences for these systems.

Although there are constant advances in the medical arts leading to new treatments for spinal cord injuries, medical science has not yet found a way to fully reverse spinal cord damage once it occurs. As a result, sufferers often require life-long medical care and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, such treatment does not come cheap, costing up to $3 million for life-long care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unfortunately, people can easily find themselves in situations where there is a high risk of developing a spinal cord injury. Aside from falls and car accidents, this type of injury can be caused by workplace accidents, contact sport injuries and acts of violence (e.g. gunshot or knife wounds). Since many of these causes also involve a negligent party, many of those receiving spinal cord injuries find that they are able to recover a large portion of their medical bills from the responsible party under Tennessee law. If you have suffered a back injury because of someone else's negligence, an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney can work to recover the compensation that you are entitled to.


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