Steep Rise in Spinal Cord Injuries Among Elderly

By Pauline Anderson

Although the absolute number of acute traumatic spinal cord injuries has remained stable and the incidence rate of such injuries has increased only modestly, owing to a larger population, the incidence of spinal cord injuries is increasing steeply among older adults, mostly owing to falls, new research shows.

The increase in fall-related injuries among this older population during a recent 19-year period represents a “major public health concern,” according to lead study author Nitin B. Jain, MD, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

“It’s not just the sheer numbers but the proportion of spinal cord injuries due to falls in this age category is also increasing,” he told Medscape Medical News.

Seniors today are a lot more active than they used to be. “They’re hiking and skiing and doing recreational activities,” said Dr Jain, adding that balance and cognitive issues may contribute to their increased risk for falls.

The study was published online June 9 in the Journal of the American Medical Association in an issue devoted to the Americans With Disabilities Act.


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