A spinal cord injury is one of the most debilitating injuries that a person can endure. Rehabilitation can be a long and painful process and the combination of pain and reduced mobility can result in depression and other psychological conditions.
It is estimated that every year 12,000 people in the USA suffer from a spinal cord injury and approximately 90 percent of those are males. Most injuries are the result of playing sports, although many are also caused by car accidents, workplace accidents, falls and physical violence.
Some sports are more likely to cause such injuries than others. The most dangerous sports, ranked in order of the total number of injuries resulting from them, are: football, hockey, wrestling, skiing, baseball, basketball, soccer, cheerleading and diving.
These sports are ranked based on total figures obtained from one health department in Minnesota and do not indicate the percentage of people in each sport. Cheerleading has been cited as being the most dangerous sport in terms of the number of people receiving an injury compared to the number of people partaking in the sport. It is also the most common cause of spinal injury in young women. Football ranks number one because it is one of the most popular sports and is played in most schools. Football results in the most injuries to those less than 13 years of age; the main cause is schoolchildren being injured in class. For adults, skiing is one of the most dangerous sports.
Spinal cord injuries can have a devastating effect on both the body and an individual’s mental health. The psychological damage that results from a serious injury has often been overlooked in the past. Fortunately modern health science has a much better understanding of the mental health issues that can arise because of such serious physical injury.
How to cope following a spinal cord injury
A serious injury affects a patient both mentally and physically. The physical effects are obvious for all to see: being forced to use a wheelchair or walking with the aid of crutches. However, the mental impact is harder to diagnose and treat.
Depression and anxiety are the biggest problems and proper treatment requires professional advice. Treating the state of mind successfully can often help to alleviate chronic pain and speed up rehabilitation.
Problems and recovery
A spinal cord injury causes varying degrees of seriousness and permanence. Over the years there have been huge advances in how spinal cord injuries are treated. Following an injury patients generally have to spend around 11 days in hospital followed by 37 days in rehab. The age of a person when injured can greatly affect the time it takes to heal.
Chronic pain is a major problem along with a failure for the spine to properly heal, which will lead to lifelong discomfort and reduced mobility.
Precautions to reduce injury risk
To reduce the chances of suffering such an injury you should take some precautions, especially if you enjoy several of the sports mentioned above. The most obvious precaution is to not take part in any high-risk sport; however, this is advice that nobody will ever follow. The positive gains in playing sport far outweigh the risks of developing an injury.
Always ensure that you are fully protected during contact sports. There are many spine protectors on the market that are similar to those worn by motorcyclists, but they are lighter and allow more freedom of movement.
Claiming compensation following a spinal cord injury
If you have received a serious injury following a sporting accident or other type of accident you may be entitled to some compensation. The compensation should cover your rehabilitation and lost income during the time you are unable to work. If you think that you may be entitled to financial help a personal injury lawyer will be able to offer advice.