It is estimated that there are as many as 12,500 new spinal cord injury cases each year in the United States alone. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at the University of Alabama-Birmingham compiles an annual report of statistics related to common spinal cord injury causes and takes an in-depth look at the main such injuries in the USA each year.
Their figures suggest that men account for more than 80% of spinal cord injuries and believe that this is because they are more likely to play dangerous sports or engage in high-risk activities like motor racing or extreme sports.
Table of Contents
10 Common Spinal Cord Injury Causes
In recent years, the 10 leading causes of spinal injuries have been determined as the following:
10. Person to Person Contact
Fighting and other psychical altercations can lead to catastrophic injuries that can be potentially life changing. A single punch can lead to a fall or bang on the head that can damage the spinal cord forever.
A hard punch to the base of the spine or the nape of the neck can cause significant muscular injury and may even cause serious spinal cord damage. Fist fights and bar brawls may not seem as dangerous as car crashes or gunshots, but there is the risk for significant, permanent damage in many cases.
9. Bicycle Accidents
Although most people who are involved in bicycle accidents only suffer from minor bumps and scratches, a serious tumble over the handlebars at speed can result in damage to the spinal cord and other life-changing injuries.
A hard landing collision with a wall or other solid object can even be fatal. The speed at which the cyclist is traveling can have a big impact on the risk and severity of the injury and permanent damage to the spine is certainly possible.
8. Pedestrian Injuries
Traffic accidents aren’t only dangerous for road users, they can also have potentially fatal or catastrophic outcomes for pedestrians too. From major car crashes to more minor collisions, pedestrians are incredibly vulnerable when hit by moving vehicles.
The impact of a collision can shatter the spine and lead to permanent and life-changing injuries. Whether it is the weight of the vehicle or the velocity at which the individual hits the floor, the spinal cord is always at risk from damage during a pedestrian accident.
7. Medical and Surgical Complications
The vast majority of medical procedures go as planned and without any complications. In some instances though, mistakes, unknown medical factors and even infection can cause trauma to the spinal cord that can result in irreversible damage.
Medical complications can happen when mistakes are made with joint injections or caudal epidurals, missed fractures of the neck and the back, errors handling the patient and complications of spinal surgery.
6. Falling Objects
Anyone can be at risk of objects falling from height when they are situated below. This could be as commonplace as working on a building site or high rise building or even the risk from naturally falling rocks if you are out in the countryside. Even a small object such as a hand held tool could cause serious injury to the head and spine when dropped from a great height.
Hard hats and protective clothing are worn to help prevent construction workers from injury, and rock climbers and those enjoying extreme activities at height should also wear protective headgear.
5. Motorcycle Accidents
Driving at high speeds on just two wheels puts motorcyclists at a higher risk of sustaining a severe spinal injury when involved in a road collision. Riding a motorcycle poses an increased danger of potentially traumatic injuries to your neck, back, and spine.
With more people choosing to use motorcycles as a way to commute without worrying about traffic queues, more incidences of spinal cord injuries caused by motorcycle accidents are likely to be recorded. Bike helmets and protective clothing must always be worn on a motorbike.
4. Diving Injuries
Serious accidents caused by diving into shallow water are rare but can be potentially devastating. Spinal cord injuries as well as serious damage to the neck are usually recorded in young, healthy males who have misjudged the depth of the water below.
These types of accident can result in potentially life-changing injuries or even fatality.
3. Gunshot wounds
Being on the receiving end of a gunshot is obviously going to result in a serious injury occurring. If a victim is shot in the region of the spine, the penetration of the bullet can cause the spinal cord to be severed, sheared, torn, crushed, or otherwise damaged. This could quite easily result in a loss of function and irreversible spinal cord damage.
Bullets can pass directly through the spine and sever it completely, or remain lodged in the spinal region.
For infirm individuals and people over the age of 65, falls are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries in the USA today. A seemingly innocent tumble can lead to a potentially serious medical condition if the individual is not correctly lifted when they fall, or seen by a medical professional who can fully assess their injuries.
Slips and falls in the workplace are also responsible for a range of injuries including damage to the spinal cord, and can happen to anyone of working age. This is also one of the most common reasons for employment lawsuits in the USA.
1. Vehicle Accidents
Car accidents are the leading and common spinal cord injury causes in the United States, accounting for nearly half of all reported cases. Car accidents are also sadly one of the leading causes of death nationwide.
While spinal cord injuries can occur from accidents caused by unsafe road conditions, poor driving or other factors like alcohol or distractions, not wearing a seat belt vastly increases the risk of spinal cord injury as the result of a vehicle accident.