Why are Spinal Cord Injuries Affecting So Many Seniors?

By Peter DePaolis

Injury Attorneys for Nursing Home Residents in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland

Spinal cord injuries (SCI) are on the rise in the United States, and the primary cause of these injuries is not vehicle wrecks but slip and fall accidents. Many of the victims are elderly individuals, and their injuries can be as severe as complete paralysis. Understanding the causes of the increasing number of fall-related SCIs is important: by understanding the causes, we can create successful prevention methods.

Why are Spinal Cord Injuries Rising in Elderly Individuals?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzed a nationally representative sample of over 43,000 adults treated for SCI between 2007 and 2009. During this time, the incidence rate of SCI per million people in those 65 and older rose from 79.4 to 87.7.

Over the course of the study, falls were the leading cause of SCI at 41.5 percent of the cases, followed by automobile collisions at 35.5 percent. Overall, spinal cord injuries increased over the course of the study, even though the rate of incidence declined slightly among those aged 18 to 64.

The average age of an SCI victim has increased from 41 to 51. Taking into account the severity of the injury and other health conditions experienced by a patient, elderly adults with spinal cord injury may be six times more likely to die during their inpatient stay in a hospital.

Why Do Older Adults Suffer from Spinal Cord Injuries?

Researchers did not cite an exact reason why falls are now the most common cause of SCI. A number of factors, such as elderly individuals having active lifestyles and the general aging of the population, may influence this rise in SCIs.

One contributing factor in the rise of SCIs in older adults may be the quality of care in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Nursing home falls occur surprisingly often, and nursing homes often do not take the precautionary measures necessary to prevent these falls. Too often, nursing homes are short-staffed, and each individual may not receive the level of care they require. Falls can result in SCI, broken bones and traumatic brain injuries as well.

What To Do When a Loved One Falls in a Nursing Home

When an elderly relative falls in a nursing home, you may wonder what to do next and whether the nursing home is a safe place. If you believe negligence caused the accident, such as a lack of supervision, lack of safety rails, improper medication dose or other preventable occurrence, speak with a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer. An attorney can speak to the nursing home staff and investigate what happened and why. While it is not always feasible to move your relative to a different facility, in some cases, that might be the best option.

Take care of your loved one’s health first, and then talk to our injury lawyers. If your relative suffered a spinal injury after a fall, the medical expenses will be significant. We assist clients in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland in reviewing their options after nursing home neglect caused a preventable accident. Our firm consists of many highly renowned lawyers, and many are recognized as Super Lawyers for their professional excellence. We work diligently for injury victims and give their cases the attention they deserve. Call our office today for free attorney advice.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.