Falls top car crashes as leading cause of U.S. spinal injuries - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Falls top car crashes as leading cause of U.S. spinal injuries

Updated: Jan 28, 2014 02:13 PM
© iStockphoto.com / Tillson Burg © iStockphoto.com / Tillson Burg

TUESDAY, Jan. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Spinal cord injury rates in the United States are rising, and the leading cause now appears to be falls suffered by seniors rather than traffic crashes, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that programs to prevent falls in elderly people could significantly reduce the number of spinal injuries in the nation, the researchers said.

They analyzed data from more than 43,000 adults with spinal cord injuries who were treated in hospital emergency rooms between 2007 and 2009. The incidence rate among people aged 18 to 64 dipped from about 52 people per million in 2007 to about 50 per million in 2009, according to a Johns Hopkins Medicine news release.

The rate of spinal injuries among people 65 and older rose from about 79 people per million to nearly 88 per million during that time, according to the study, which was published in the Jan. 23 issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma.

"We are seeing a changing face in the epidemiology of spinal cord injury," study co-leader Dr. Edward Hammond, a research associate at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, said in the news release.

Falls accounted for 41.5 percent of spinal cord injuries during the study period, followed by traffic crashes at 35.5 percent. The researchers also found that fall-related spinal cord injuries accounted for 30 percent of all injuries among seniors in 2009, compared to 23.6 percent in 2007.

A previous study found that the average age of adults with spinal cord injuries was 41 between 2000 and 2005. It was 51 in the current study, according to the news release.

The researchers also found that seniors with spinal cord injuries are four times more likely than younger patients to die from those injuries in the emergency room. Older patients also are six times more likely to die after being admitted to the hospital with a spinal injury.

The precise reason spinal cord injuries are more likely to be caused by falls than traffic crashes is unclear, the researchers said. It might be a combination of the overall aging of the U.S. population, the more active lifestyles of seniors and increased crash protection provided by airbags and seatbelt laws, they said.

The researchers also found that spinal cord injuries are a growing financial burden on the health care system. From 2007 to 2009, emergency-room charges alone for spinal cord injuries totaled $1.6 billion. Those charges increased 20 percent over the study period -- well above the rate of inflation, they said.

"We have demonstrated how costly traumatic spinal cord injury is and how lethal and disabling it can be among older people," study co-leader Dr. Shalini Selvarajah, a postdoctoral surgical research fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in the news release. "It's an area that is ripe for prevention."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about spinal cord injuries.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:15:09 GMT
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure, but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms.more>>
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure for SMA but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms, it targets mutated SMN genes, which are responsible for SMA.more>>
  • Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:15:09 GMT
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
  • Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Friday, April 11 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-11 21:15:07 GMT
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a rare type of melanoma that targets the eye. It can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a type of melanoma that targets the eye. It affects about 2,000 people a year in the United States. Although rare – it can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
  • Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Thursday, April 10 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-10 21:15:09 GMT
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
  • Pedaling For A Cure

    Pedaling For A Cure

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
  • Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Tuesday, April 8 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-08 21:15:13 GMT
    CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Eric Robinson alive after he went into cardiac arrest. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
    A year ago, while jamming with his son's band, Eric Robinson went into cardiac arrest. CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Robinson alive. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
  • Helping High Risk Hearts

    Helping High Risk Hearts

    Monday, April 7 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-07 21:15:09 GMT
    Ironing is not exactly Barbara Roy's favorite activity, but it's something she's glad she can do again. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis.more>>
    Ironing is not exactly Barbara Roy's favorite activity, but it's something she's glad she can do again. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis.more>>
  • Hernias In Newborns: Lincoln's Story

    Hernias In Newborns: Lincoln's Story

    Friday, April 4 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-04 21:15:07 GMT
    Congenital diaphragmatic hernias occur in about one in every 2,000 births. They can be deadly, but now doctors are using a more aggressive treatment approach.more>>
    Congenital diaphragmatic hernias occur in about one in every 2,000 births. They can be deadly, but now doctors are using a more aggressive treatment approach.more>>
  • Predicting Bad Hearts

    Predicting Bad Hearts

    Thursday, April 3 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-03 21:15:09 GMT
    Every year, more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack. Now, researchers at Baylor Research Institute at Dallas have uncovered a biomarker that may help them spot the disease sooner.more>>
    Every year, more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack. And 600,000 die of heart disease. Now, researchers at Baylor Research Institute at Dallas have uncovered a biomarker that may help them spot the disease sooner; and they did it by pure accident.more>>
  • Giving Shannon A Voice Of Her Own

    Giving Shannon A Voice Of Her Own

    Wednesday, April 2 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-02 21:15:05 GMT
    More than half a million children under age 15 has a severe communication disorder impairing their ability to speak or communicate with others. Now, advances in technology are giving them a voice—some for the first time.more>>
    More than half a million children under age 15 has a severe communication disorder impairing their ability to speak or communicate with others. Now, advances in technology are giving them a voice—some for the first time.more>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.