Are Traumatic Brain Injuries and Spinal Cord Injuries Preventable?
Although this is not what most people want to hear, spinal cord injuries (SCIs) and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can affect anyone regardless of age, race, or gender. Since anyone can sustain either (or both) of these injuries, that means they’re not preventable, right?
Not necessarily. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), the top five most common causes of spinal cord injury in the United States are motor vehicle accidents (38.3%), falls (31.6%), violence (13.8%), sports (8.2%), and medical/surgery (4.6%). Brainline.org reports the four leading causes of traumatic brain injuries as falls (47%), striking or being struck by something (15%), motor vehicle-related accidents (14%), violence or self-harm (9%).
However, the prevalence of these injuries will vary when considering SCI and TBI data from other countries. For example, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in central and eastern Europe, followed by automobile accidents, according to a comprehensive global study of TBIs and spinal cord injuries between 1990 and 2016. Conflict and terrorism (violence) are the leading spinal cord injury causes in the Middle East and North Africa.
The study, which was published in The Lancet, Neurology, indicates that among some of the highest global health priorities right now are TBIs and SCIs. It assesses the preventability of most injuries and the complex and expensive medical care they necessitate. To identify any particular trends, the researchers measured and evaluated:
- The causes of the injuries,
- The years lived with said injuries, and
- The proportion of cases that happen (breaking them down by different types of injury).
How Can Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries & TBIs Be Avoided?
Based on some of the research from the report, we’ve created a list of some ideas for how to prevent spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries:
Reduce Threat Factors that Cause SCIs and TBIs
With the two leading causes of spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries being falls and automobile accidents, it’s important to focus on ways to prevent these injuries from occurring. Some ways to accomplish this can include:
- Leaving a little early to drive somewhere so you don’t feel tempted to speed.
- Avoiding peak traffic times or rush hour, whenever possible, by leaving early or taking alternate routes.
- Minimizing distractions when driving or walking close to the road.
- Removing clutter or addressing tripping hazards (such as uneven sideways or garbage laying around) from public areas.
- Following the law and wearing seatbelts while in or operating a motor vehicle.
- Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle.
- Wearing a helmet and other safety gear when playing sports.
- Installing handrails in restrooms or holding onto handrails when walking up or down the stairs.
- Supervising your children at all times and evaluating playground equipment for safety.
- Avoiding diving headfirst into a swimming pool without first checking the depth of the water
Increase Education on the Causes of Traumatic SCIs and TBIs
One of the things that may help prevent future cases of these injuries is to educate the public on some of the common causes of traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. For example, teaching about causes of and how to prevent spinal cord injuries is particularly important for children and adults — many kids play sports, and the average age at injury for many SCI survivors is now 43, according to NSCISC.
Increase Access to and the Quality of Specialized Medical & Social Care
When these types of injuries occur, it’s imperative that survivors of traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries receive the best care as quickly as possible. Early treatment and continuing care and rehabilitation can help to decrease morbidity and increase survival rates and maximize optimal recovery.
On SpinalCord.com, we have a variety of resources available, including:
- A list of hospitals and rehabilitation centers that specialize in spinal cord injuries;
- An interactive map of activity-based therapy centers around the U.S.; and
For more information or resources concerning spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries, as well as for legal guidance on how to pursue compensation to cover your treatment costs, contact us today.
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