Spinal cord injuries occur whenever the spinal cord faces damage, which can be caused by a variety of factors, most of which are external trauma. The severity of the damage will determine how serious the injury is. There is currently no definitive cure for chronic spinal cord injuries, although treatment options are improving all the time.
In the US alone, it’s estimated that 17,500 cases of spinal cord injuries will be recorded each year, which is around 54 out of every 1 million Americans.
Below we will examine the 10 most common causes of spinal injuries in the United States:
10 – Person-to-Person Contact
A spinal injury often occurs from high impact to the spine, therefore it can be caused by contact made with another person. In most instances, this is due to a physical altercation (violent or otherwise), such as someone being pushed into an object and injuring their spine as a result.
Whilst fighting can often be the cause of the contact, sometimes it occurs from non-violent incidents, such as playing contact sports or simply messing around with a friend.
09 – Bicycle Accident
A helmet helps to reduce the risk of a head injury when riding a bicycle, but there is no equivalent protection for the spine. As a result, spinal cord injuries can often occur as a result of a serious bike accident.
Such incidents can occur in various ways, including collisions with vehicles, falling from the bike and hitting the ground and also collisions with hard, inanimate objects such as a wall or fence.
08 – Pedestrian Injuries
Walking is typically considered as one of the most risk-free methods of getting around, but there are instances where spinal injuries occur to pedestrians. With increasing number of people being distracted by phones and other devices as they walk around outside, pedestrians are still susceptible to spinal cord injuries.
This is often caused by accidental collisions with objects, tripping and falling awkwardly and being hit by a vehicle.
07 – Medical and Surgical Complications
Medical treatment can be sometimes result in a spinal cord injury being sustained.
This tends to happen due to a human error during surgery or an unexpected infection when in recovery that may cause compression or other damage to the spine.
06 – Falling Objects
Many people assume getting injured by a falling object only happens in cartoons, but it is a surprisingly common cause of spinal cord damage.
For instance, construction sites have a much higher risk of falling objects causing spinal injuries than other professions. However there are several other lines of work where falling objects are an occupational hazard that could cause injury, including damage to the spinal cord.
There have also been instances where people out in public have been injured by a falling object, so as always, it’s best to keep aware of your surroundings.
05 – Motorcycle Accidents
Despite making up a small percentage of vehicles on the roads in the United States of America, motorcycles face a greater risk of injury due to limited protection in the event of a collision.
So, whilst helmets can be a literal lifesaver for motorcyclists, many may still suffer from serious spinal cord injuries when involved in an auto accident.
Damage to the neck, head, chest and back can all cause injury to the spinal cord and motorcyclists are more susceptible than car drivers simply because of a comparative lack of external protection from their vehicle.
04 – Diving Injuries
Although diving into a body of water from a high height is can be an exhilarating (and daunting) experience, it comes with massive risks, namely sustaining damage to the body from the impact of hitting the water.
You can also damage the spine from diving into water that is too shallow, as there is not enough water to break your fall. Landing awkwardly on your back or head when diving can lead to a serious spinal cord injury – take care whenever diving and always check the water to ensure it’s safe to dive into.
03 – Gunshot Wounds
The spinal cord is a sensitive part of the body and even the slightest impact to it can result in serious consequences. Gunshot wounds are therefore a high-risk event when it comes to considering causes of spinal cord injuries. The force of the bullet can cause significant damage to any part of the body that is hit. In the USA, gun-related incidents accounted for more than 16% of male spinal cord injuries in 2014.
02 – Falls
Accidental falls aren’t just dangerous for the elderly; they are one of the most common causes of spinal cord injury in the USA – affecting people of all ages.
Even something as simple as a tripping and falling in your house could cause a serious impact that leads to serious damage to the spinal cord. Falling down the stairs is one common occurrence that falls into this category.
01 – Vehicle Accidents
Auto accidents are the leading cause of spinal injures not just in the United States of America, but also in many other countries worldwide. This makes sense when you consider the increasing number of cars on the road and the significant trauma the entire body suffers when an individual is involved in a vehicle accident.
Accidents can occur from colliding with another vehicle, driving into a wall or other hard object, or even from just an emergency brake. Increasing road safety is high up in the agenda of the governments of most countries in the world, yet traffic accidents still post a huge risk, especially in less developed regions.
As this list shows, there are many different ways in which an individual can cause damage to their spinal cord. Being diligent in every aspect of your life can help minimise the risk of injury but accidents may still occur no matter how careful you are.