Leading Cause of Spinal Cord Injuries in Seniors Are Falls

The results of a new study are both alarming and surprising. Spinal cord injuries have become a growing problem in the U.S., with seniors most often being the victims. In fact, it’s not motor vehicle accidents that are the leading cause of death in seniors — it’s falls.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 43,000 adults with spinal-cord injuries (from years 2007 to 2009) and discovered that rates had dropped for people between the ages of 18 and 64. However, they increased for those aged 65 and up. In 2007, senior spinal-cord injuries caused by falls were at 23.6 percent. They increased to 30 percent in 2009.

The study also found that falls accounted for 41.5 percent of spinal-cord injuries, as opposed to 35.5 percent attributed to traffic accidents. And compared to younger adults, seniors were four times more likely to die in the emergency room as a result of their injuries and six times more likely to die after being hospitalized.

It’s believed that many of these incidences could be avoided. One area of concern when it comes to falls is nursing homes. Although a patient’s health and age sometimes can contribute to falls for seniors, there are often preventable measures that can be taken.

For instance, it’s important to recognize patients who are particularly at risk and implement safety features — such as using protective mats, putting guardrails on the bed or making sure the bed isn’t set too high. Another issue that can be a factor is a patient taking certain types of prescription medication (sometimes unnecessarily), which may increase the risk of losing balance.

When a patient is injured in a nursing home and it was believed to be preventable, it may be a good idea to seek legal advice. Gacovino, Lake and Associates will investigate the causes of your loved one’s fall and can use their extensive resources to capture hospital logs, statements of character and medication receipts to bring the correct party to justice.

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