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Car crashes no longer top cause of spinal cord injuries

The number of older people in the county, including Colorado, is on the rise. As such, spinal cord injuries suffered due to falls has surpassed car crashes. The percentage of these injuries suffered by individuals in auto accidents was 35.5 percent from 2007 to 2009. During that same period, 41.5 percent of all spinal cord injuries were due to falls.

Researchers at John Hopkins gathered this information. As part of the study, researchers also discovered that the average age of those suffering such injuries rose from 41 years old prior to 2007 to age 51 thereafter. More disturbingly, older patients have a higher chance of death after a spinal cord injury than younger victims do. That chance rises from four times higher in the emergency room to six times higher during a hospital stay.

Part of the reason for falls taking over the number one ranking is that more people over the age of 65 are still active, exposing them to a greater risk of injury. On the other hand, improvements in vehicle safety, such as seat belt use and airbags, may be responsible -- at least in part -- for the drop in spinal cord injuries in motor vehicle collisions. Regardless of how the injury occurred, the financial impact can devastate a victim and his or her family.

During the period of the study, it was determined that emergency room costs associated with spinal cord injuries was $1.6 billion. For those whose lives are altered forever by such an injury, the cost of care could be prohibitive. For an individual in Colorado who suffers a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of another, the successful handling of a personal injury claim seeking damages such as pain and suffering and medical costs, both present and future, could help defray those costs.

Source: insurancejournal.com, Traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries on the Rise in U.S., No author, Feb. 3, 2014

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