Nobody ever dreams they will be the one to sustain a life-altering spinal cord injury, but they do happen. In an instant, your entire world can be turned upside down and changed forever. Take a proactive approach to preventing spinal cord injuries by learning the major causes of these types of injuries and the simple measures that can help reduce your risk.
Car and motorcycle accidents are by far the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. In fact, it’s estimated that about 40% of spinal cord injuries are the result of automobile accidents. When you’re driving or are a passenger in a vehicle, you must take responsibility for your own safety. That means always wearing a seatbelt, driving within the speed limit to ensure you have control over the vehicle at all times, refraining from driving if you have been drinking or taking drugs, and refusing to get in a car with anyone you believe is impaired. You never know who is sharing the road with you, so it’s important to keep an eye on other drivers as well. Look out for individuals who are driving erratically or not paying attention to the road and the other cars.
The second most common cause of spinal cord injuries are falls, accounting for about 25% of all injuries. Falls can occur at home, at the workplace, or at another person’s place of business. You can minimize the risk of falls in your own home by keeping walkways and stairs shoveled and salted during the winter months and making sure entrance areas are well-lit. Indoor stairs and hallways should be kept clear and uncluttered. At work, clean up spills right away, report unsafe situations, and wear recommended safety gear when completing potentially dangerous tasks. When you’re out at another person’s business, keep an eye out for patches of ice, spills, or anything else that could put you at risk of falling. Use reasonable caution, and don’t enter the business if you feel the risk is extreme.
Sports injuries are also a significant cause of spinal cord injuries, but there are ways to minimize your risk. Wear approved safety equipment and protective gear if you’re taking part in contact sports such as football or hockey; and always use a helmet when you’re biking, rollerblading, skiing or skateboarding. Finally, never dive headfirst into water that you are unfamiliar with. A large number of people have sustained spinal cord injuries because the water was shallower than the person thought or contained large rocks.
Violence and certain diseases contribute to or cause some spinal cord injuries. Obviously, it’s impossible to avoid a random stabbing or drive by shooting, but taking a common sense approach can help you avoid being attacked. Never walk alone at night, and avoid high crime areas. A healthy lifestyle may help you prevent some of the conditions associated with spinal cord injuries, including osteoporosis and cancer.