10 of the Most Common Spinal Cord Injury Causes

A spinal cord injury can cause devastating levels of damage to the body, and has the potential to completely alter life of any individual who sustains one.  In just a few short moments, permanent changes to the way the body functions can occur, with no immediate hope for a cure.

While injury and illness can strike at any time, certain circumstances are more likely to cause spinal cord injuries than others.

Here are the 10 most common causes of spinal injury in the USA, according to available data:

10. Person-to-person contact

Violent altercations between two people such as fistfights or even pushing another individual into a wall or down the stairs can have devastating consequences. It’s estimated that around 234 men and 66 women sustain spinal cord injuries due to physical contact in the USA each year.

9. Bicycle Accidents

Cyclists are incredibly vulnerable on the roads, especially if they are not wearing a helmet. Fatal accidents involving cyclists have declined in recent years, which may be due to the fact people are more safety conscious when cycling these days.

According to the data from 2014, 409 men and 49 women suffered bicycling-related spinal cord injuries in the United States.

8. Pedestrian Injuries

Even if you avoid traveling on the roads, it is still possible to be the victim of an accident even just walking along the sidewalk. Research suggests that pedestrians are often distracted by phones and other devices, putting them at risk of stepping out in front of a moving vehicle or walking into obstruction. While these types of occurrence are not usually dangerous, in 2014, 357 men and 131 women sustained pedestrian-related spinal cord injuries in the USA.

7.  Medical and Surgical Complications

We put our trust in doctors and medical professionals to heal us, and quite rightly so, but occasionally things can go wrong. Medical errors are actually pretty common, but ones that cause long term or potentially fatal damage are very far and few between. That said, surgical complications including damage to the spinal cord or infections that compress the spinal cord, do happen. In the United States in 2014 alone, 537 men and 298 women sustained spinal cord injuries that were caused by medical errors, complications and/or negligence.

6. Falling Objects

Objects that fall from a height can cause lifelong injuries. This could happen on a construction site, or could be caused by something like falling rocks from the side of a cliff.  Anything that hits the brain or spine at speed can cause potentially fatal injuries.  Construction workers are particularly at risk of injury in this way.  In 2014, 822 men and 37 women experienced spinal cord injuries due to falling objects.

5. Motorcycle Accidents

The ratio of motorcycles on the road compared to the number that are involved in potentially fatal accidents has always been high. This is mostly based on the lack of external protection when riding a motorcycle. Accidents are more common in the male community, although more men ride motorcycles than women in the USA. In 2014, 1,695 men suffered spinal cord injuries as a result of a motorcycle incident, compared to, 145 women.

4. Diving Injuries

Leaping head first off of a diving board may seem an obvious way to increase your risk of head and back injury, but when safely undertaken, diving isn’t necessarily a dangerous sport. Diving into a pool with not enough water in, however, is extremely dangerous and can lead to catastrophic injuries. In 2014, 1,718 men and 122 women sustained spinal cord injuries as a result of diving accidents in 2014.

3.  Gunshot wounds

Gunshot wounds can obviously be fatal, but even if the recipient of a gunshot is lucky enough to not be killed outright, there’s a big chance of them sustaining a serious, life-changing injury. 4,163 men and 572 women sustained spinal cord injuries as a result of a gunshot incident in 2014 in the USA. The comparatively lax gun laws in America no doubt play a big role in these numbers being so high.

2. Falls

It is not just the old and infirm that can be a little wobbly on their feet, Trips and falls can happen to anyone.  A misplaced step, a badly navigated footpath or even a medical incident like a seizure or a fainting episode can lead to potentially life changing injuries. 

1. Vehicle accidents

Car accidents are one of biggest causes of death or serious injury in the USA today, with more than 32,000 lives being lost on the roads annually. It should come as no surprise then, that car and vehicle accidents are also the leading cause of spinal injuries across the country, accounting for as many as 29.3% of male injuries and 48.3% of female injuries in 2014.

In Summary

There are many ways in which spinal cord injuries can occur, and accidents can happen at any time.  Observing warnings, driving at the appropriate speed and being aware on the road are just a couple of ways to help prevent some incidents from occurring – but sometimes, accidents are simply unavoidable.

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