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What are some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries?

Alaska’s rugged terrain and beauty attract thrill-seekers, adventurers, tourists as well as the average folks who just want to live with their families among the fresh air and outdoors. A splendid place to call home.

But like any place, accidents will happen. Some of those accidents may cause a spinal cord injury. Each year, about 17,500 new incidents of spinal cord injuries occur in the U.S. Today, nearly 285,000 Americans are living day-to-day with spinal cord injuries. The vast majority of them are male (81 percent).

A spinal cord injury may cause permanent damage to the spinal cord and nerves at the end of the spinal canal. Depending on the severity or location of the injury, paralysis may occur. Symptoms of spinal cord injuries may include loss of movement in your arms and legs, loss of sensation to touch, heat or cold, loss of bladder control and difficulty breathing.

Causes of spinal injuries

Spinal cord injuries can happen in a number of ways with the most common related to external trauma. Victims in this category may include your wheelchair-bound neighbor who was seriously injured in a car accident, your close friend who lost the use of her legs after a rock climbing fall or a classmate who was seriously hurt in a skiing accident. (Non-traumatic injuries such as multiple sclerosis, tumors or blood loss also can cause spinal cord injuries.)

According to Atlanta-based Shepherd Center – a hospital that focuses on the treatment of neuromuscular conditions – the five main causes of spinal cord injuries in 2016 in the U.S. were:

  • Vehicular/automobile/motorcycle accidents: 38 percent
  • Falls: 30.5 percent
  • Violent encounters (typically gunshot and knife wounds): 13.5 percent
  • Sports injury (impact sports and diving in shallow water) : 9 percent
  • Medical/surgical complications: 5 percent

It’s important to always take precautions even in everyday life. You never know when a sudden incident may change your life forever. Among the ways you can reduce chances of a spinal cord injury include driving safely, avoid drinking and driving, aim to prevent falls, check water depth before diving and wear the right protective gear for sports activities.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has sustained a back or neck injury, don’t move them. Improper relocation could cause permanent paralysis or other complications. And make sure to seek medical assistance.

If the victim's accident occurred due to another party's negligence, they may be able to pursue compensation with the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney.

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