Government report outlines dangers of spinal cord injuries

Government report outlines dangers of spinal cord injuries

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the dangers associated with spinal cord injuries and sports -- football, in particular, being a common source of injuries. A recent government report seemed to back up the sports-spinal cord injury connect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new spinal cord injuries are most common in people aged 15 to 35, and 12 percent of spinal cord injuries are the result of sports.

In all, approximately 20,000 spinal cord injuries of varying severity occur each year. Many of these injuries are associated with football, cheerleading and other activities. It stands to reason: When one is young, reckless and driven to win, one doesn't always take personal safety into account. Many young people may not even fully understand the dangers that they are in when they attempt dangerous cheerleading maneuvers or a high-risk tackle.

In response to these dangers, many colleges and high schools have instituted policies against high-risk behavior. Football tackles with the head down, known as "spearing," have been banned or discouraged in some way since 1976; however, the programs that prevent this behavior have not always been respected. As new light has been shed on the dangers of spinal cord injuries, however, more schools are taking steps to protect athletes.

Athletic trainers, for example, have become relatively common on college and even high school sports teams. These professionals are trained in spinal cord injury identification and prevention methods and are able to approach and assist injured players without exacerbating their injuries.

Still, the fact remains that spinal cord injuries are a part of many Americans' lives. Sometimes, spinal cord injuries come with long-term or permanent health consequences, such as pain, numbness or even paralysis. The cost of treating these health issues can be very high, running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. To help defray these costs, many victims file lawsuits against the parties who are responsible for their injuries. This can allow injured victims to focus on their recovery rather than their finances.

Source: The Charlotte Observer, "Spinal cord injuries in young people" Keri Register and Paul Smolen, M.D., Jan. 14, 2014


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