Study shows spinal cord injuries increasing, especially among elderly

Serious spinal cord injuries have been on the rise in the United States, according to recent research from Johns Hopkins University. However, the leading causes of those injuries appear to be shifting.

The Johns Hopkins study was based on an analysis of the emergency room records of more than 43,000 adults who were treated at U.S. hospitals for spinal cord injuries between 2007 and 2009. Although motor vehicle accidents were once the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States, the study shows that more people are now suffering spinal cord injuries as a result of falls. About 42 percent of the spinal cord injuries in the study were caused by falls, while about 36 percent were caused by car accidents. The greatest increases were seen among people age 65 and older.

Better crash technology, aging population

The reasons behind the changing landscape of spinal cord injuries remain uncertain, but researchers say likely factors may include recent improvements in vehicle crash safety, as well as general aging of the U.S. population.

Over the last several years, advancements in vehicle crash safety have been successful at reducing the number and severity of injuries caused by car accidents. At the same time, the overall U.S. population has grown older. With many Baby Boomers continuing to lead active lifestyles as they age, fall-related injuries have become more common.

Spinal cord injuries can cost millions over a lifetime

People who have suffered a spinal cord injury often find their lives dramatically altered in almost every regard. Not only may a serious spinal cord injury require ongoing monitoring and medical care for the rest of the injured person's life, but it can also interfere with his or her ability to earn a living a living or perform everyday tasks like cooking and cleaning. Furthermore, it is often necessary for the injured person to relocate or perform extensive home renovations in order to accommodate the changes in his or her lifestyle.

When these and other expenses add up, the cost of living with a spinal cord injury can be tremendous. Depending on the specific situation, the cost of medical care alone can be millions over the course of a lifetime, according to estimates from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center.

If you or a member of your family has suffered a spinal cord injury, compensation may be available to help offset these costs. Talk your situation over with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn more about your legal options for pursuing a claim.