New Report on Spinal Cord Injuries

Shifts in Spinal Cord Injury Demographic

A new study conducted at Johns Hopkins University suggests that spinal cord injury incidents are on the rise in America, and there’s a new culprit, according to an article in the Insurance Journal. While automobile accidents used to be the primary source of dangerous spinal cord injuries, falls have caused more of these injuries in the past several years. And more significantly, perhaps, the new Johns Hopkins study, published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, suggests that older adults are at greater risk for spinal cord injuries than Americans in any other age group. As such, we may be able to significantly reduce the risk of spinal cord injuries if we’re able to “prevent falls in the elderly.”


Have you or a loved one sustained a severe spinal cord injury? You may be eligible to seek financial compensation. These injuries can occur in many different kinds of accidents, including but not limited to car crashes, slips and falls, and contact sports. The California injury lawyers at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your claim with you today.

Details of the Johns Hopkins Study

In the recent study, Johns Hopkins researchers used a sample of more than 43,000 adults who were treated for spinal cord injuries in emergency-room settings during a two-year period—between the years of 2007 and 2009. What did the study find?

  • The incidence of spinal cord injuries among people aged 18 to 64 remained relatively steady across the years covered in the study, with numbers ranging from 29.9 per million to 52.3 per million each year.
  • The incidence of spinal cord injuries among people aged 65 and older rose dramatically, from 79.4 per million in 2007 to 87.7 per million in 2009.

As you can see, the rates of spinal cord injury were already higher among the older populations, and those figures only appear to be increasing. Indeed, the average of adults suffering from a spinal cord injury was 41 years old back in 2000. Now, based on the statistics from the recent study, the average age is 51.

According to Shalini Selvarajah, a postdoctoral surgical research fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explained the impact of the study: “We have demonstrated how costly traumatic spinal cord injury is, and how lethal and disabling it can be among older people.” Referring to the high rate of spinal cord injuries among the elderly, Selvarajah emphasized that “it’s an area that is ripe for prevention.”

Why have falls become the leading cause of spinal cord injuries? Researchers can’t be absolutely sure, but many believe it’s because of the “general aging of the population, the more active lifestyles of many Americans over 65, and airbags and seatbelt laws that allow drivers and passengers to survive crashes.” In other words, safety measures have reduced the number of spinal cord injuries related to automobile accidents, while the growing number of old adults in America has led to a rise in fall-related spinal cord injuries.

The costs of these injuries are very high. In addition to the personal “costs” associated with disability and paralysis, medical bills related to spinal cord injuries have also been on the rise. According to the Johns Hopkins Study, “emergency room charges alone for traumatic spinal cord injury patients totaled $1.6 billion” in 2009. And the California Workers’ Compensation Institute recently reported that spinal cord injuries, along with traumatic brain injury, have cost more than $500 million over the course of the last 10 years.

If you sustained a spinal cord injury during an accident, you deserve to be compensated. Contact an experienced San Diego spinal cord injury attorney today to learn more about filing a claim.

Photo Credit: Polygon Medical Animation via Compfight cc

See Related Blog Posts:
New Research Shows Long-Term Effects of Brain Injuries
California Workers’ Comp Panel Rejects Brain Injury Claim

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