New cases of spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the United States in 2005 was 11,000. In 2014, instead of decreasing through the help of modern medicine, the number has, instead, gone up to 12,500 new cases and every year, more new SCIs, around this same number, gets added to the 276,000 children and adults believed to already be spinal cord injured. Male SCI patients make 82% of the total number, while 56% of those injured are aged between 16 and 30.
The spinal cord, which is a bundle of nerve tissues and support cells, forms the central nervous system with the brain and is one of the human body’s most delicate and sensitive parts. While the brain acts as the body’s command center, the spinal cord serves as the pathway for all information from the brain to the different parts of the body and back to the brain.
Injuries to the spinal cord can damage the spinal cord itself, the ligaments or spinal column disks, or the vertebrae. A spinal cord injury may be traumatic or non-traumatic. The former, which is characterized by a fractured, crushed, dislocated, or compressed area of the vertebrae, is usually a result of a sudden, forceful blow to the spine, or a knife or gunshot would that pierces and cuts the spinal cord. A non-traumatic spinal cord injury, other hand, is usually due to disk degeneration of the spine, infections, inflammation, cancer or arthritis.
A severe injury to the spinal cord can have devastating effects. A severe damage usually results to paralysis, either partial or total, depending on its extent and severity. Paralysis, which loss of control and function on one side of the body is called Paraplegia or partial paralysis; total loss of functions and control of body parts that are affected due to injury to the spinal cord is called Quadriplegia or total paralysis.
In Paraplegia, it is possible that a patient would still have sensation despite having lost control in the paralyzed area. With regard to total paralysis, total loss of control starts from the area of the spinal cord that has been injured down to the rest of the body; this means that the higher the injury, the greater the extent of paralysis.
Vehicular accident was identified as the major cause of spinal cord injuries before the year 2000. In 2014, a study by the Center for Surgical Trials and Outcomes Research of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows that falls is the new leading cause of spinal cord injuries, especially in older people. Falls can happen anywhere. Very often, though, hazards that increase risks of accidental falls are due to someone else’s act of negligence, like failure to wipe and clean slippery surfaces, replace or fix a torn carpet, put up signs that warn of uneven flooring, or tidy up exposed electrical wires.