According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) approximately 200,000 Americans have a disability associated with a spinal cord injury. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 11 000 people in the United States sustain a spinal cord injury yearly. Spinal cord injuries range from injuries that cause discomfort to spinal cord trauma that result in partial or full paralysis.
For people under 65 years of age, the leading cause of spinal cord injury is automobile accidents. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people who are 65 years of age or older are most likely to sustain spinal injury from slip and fall accidents. Studies reported by NCIPC indicate that 18% of spinal cord injuries are caused by recreational or sports activities.
Whatever the causes of spinal cord injuries, these injuries can create permanent disability and even paralysis. Patients who sustain this sort of injury may require expensive medical treatment and lengthy rehabilitation. Spinal cord injuries may affect a patient’s lifestyle and ability to return to work. In addition, this sort of injury can result in emotional upset, withdrawal, and depression, especially in early stages when the patient is still getting used to the injury. NCIPC also reports that this sort of injury results in secondary negative health outcomes. Specifically, people with SCIs may suffer from urinary tract infections, pressure sores, spasticity, respiratory complications, and scoliosis as a result of their injury.
Studies about SCIs have shown that these injuries cost the country $9.7 billion annually. An incredible $1.2 billion is used to treat pressure sores alone. Everyone needs to be concerned about spinal cord injuries, as everyone may be affected at some point. Although studies have shown that males between 15 and 29 years old are most likely to sustain a SCI, the injury is truly non-discriminatory and can strike almost anyone.
According to the NCIPC and the CDC, there are a number of things that can be done to prevent SCIs:
*Put programs in place to reduce instances of SCIs. For example, programs to encourage safer driving can help prevent SCIs caused by automobile accidents. Greater awareness about the dangers that can lead to SCI may also encourage people to be more cautious with their health.
*Addressing transportation, falls, and firearms specifically. By reducing the number of accidents associated with these three risk factors, rates of SCIs may drop significantly.
*Changing current programs to make the message clearer. For example, providing more real-life examples that illustrate to youth why drinking and driving or reckless behaviour may be dangerous may make the dangers of spinal cord injury more real to target audiences.
*Involve healthcare workers, teachers, the public, and politicians in awareness campaigns. By allowing audiences to hear about spinal cord injuries from a variety of sources, it is more likely that the message will get through.
Ultimately, the best prevention may be an extra dose of caution and awareness. Being careful to check water levels before diving into a pool, slowing down when driving, and generally using common sense can reduce the odds of spinal cord injuries.