Spinal Cord Injuries on the Rise

Falling down—not car accidents—is the culprit


Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

The biggest cause of spinal injuries in the United States used to be car accidents, but a new study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that for people 65 and older, most traumatic spinal injuries occur from falling down.

What’s worse, researchers found that older adults with spinal cord injuries are four times more likely than younger adults to die in the emergency room from such an injury.

The study, originally published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, analyzed 43,137 adults in hospital emergency rooms for spinal cord injuries in the United States between 2007 and 2009. The incidence per million in those who were 65 and older increased from 79.4 to 87.7 during the two-year span.

Shalini Selvarajah, the leader of the study, suggests that if we spent more time preventing falls by the elderly, the number of spinal injuries would go down.

“It’s an area that is ripe for prevention,” she says.

Filed to: