Falls top vehicle crashes as leading cause of spinal cord injuries, study finds

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Baltimore – Falls have overtaken motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of serious traumatic spinal cord injuries, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University.

Researchers analyzed a sample of 43,137 adult spinal cord injury cases treated in hospital emergency departments between 2007 and 2009. During the three-year period, the frequency of injuries among adults 65 or older increased to 87.7 per million from 79.4 per million, suggesting older adults account for a large share of the overall increase in serious spinal cord injuries. Among all serious spinal cord injuries in the study, the main causes were falls (41.5 percent) and motor vehicle crashes (35.5 percent).

The average age of adults with these injuries was 51, up from 41 in 2000-2005.

Researchers said the results may be due to older adults being more physically active and safety belt laws helping people surviving crashes.

The study was published online Jan. 9 in the Journal of Neurotrauma.