Sports Injury and Paralysis Prevention: What You Need to Know
The Spinal Cord Information Network determined there are about 11,000 cases of spinal cord injuries happening every year in the United States. Injury in the spinal cord is one of the most dangerous threats to an individual’s life depending on the location and completeness of the injury.
There are standard prevention methods that one can take in their daily lives to avoid such an injury and also specific precautions that should be taken when getting involved in sports or extracurricular activities. “Public health and preventative medicine literature defines 3 types of prevention: primary, secondary, and tertiary.”
Primary steps are doing what’s necessary to stop a disease or disability from occurring, secondary is identifying the risk and not taking any further action in order to avoid injury, and tertiary is putting an end to activity the moment any symptoms or danger is visible.
When involved in any activity that could present a risk for spinal cord injury (SCI), everyone involved should be made aware of safety precautions and the ways the conditions of the activity could be dangerous.
- Helmets and all suggested safety equipment should always be worn. Whenever equipment is worn down or broken it should be replaced.
- Proper techniques and movements should be taught based on the safety risks of the activities.
- All rules should be clearly defined and followed at all times.
- Proper supervision should always be present.
- When riding a bike all traffic signs should be obeyed and no headphones worn as they can make it hard for a person to hear what is going on around them.
- When skateboarding make sure the entire area is cleared of debris or any objects that could be dangerous for the sport.
- Bungee jumping, sky-diving, and base-jumping are high risk sports for spinal cord injury and all risks and precautions should be clearly communicated.
- Use extreme caution when going horseback riding, even if you are among very experienced riders. Acquire as much information as you can about the horse you are riding and always wear a helmet.
- When diving make sure there are clear and visible depth indicators provided around the entire perimeter of the pool. No one should dive into water less than 9 feet deep.
- No one should dive into an above ground pool.
- The entire pool should be lit adequately.
- Diving areas should be specifically marked.
- A trained professional in water safety should always be present at parties.
- Never push anyone into a pool or run around the perimeter where it could be wet making it a risk for slipping and falling
- Small children should be supervised at all times to monitor how high they are climbing.
- Playground equipment should be thoroughly inspected and intact before letting children play on it.
- Children should always be supervised when jumping on trampolines as they are a leading cause of spinal cord injury. 2/3 of injuries reported in children between the ages of 6 and 14 years and 15% of injuries reported in children under the age of 6 happen on trampolines. No one should jump down onto a trampoline from a high object or location and protective padding and supports should be put down on the surrounding surfaces. Only one person should be allowed on the trampoline at a time.
Awareness and Prevention
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control has constructed an easy-to-read program for those who are running organized sports or potentially dangerous activities. This can be used as a guide to help in providing tools and awareness to all individuals involved. It can also be very effective to show a video of safety techniques at the beginning of a group activity to help give participants proper awareness.
Prevention is not often viewed as a treatment for spinal cord injuries, but it is actually the most important step. People tend to think about these things too late when the results are often irreversible. Putting these prevention practices into everyday protocols help to eradicate the large number of SCI occurrences and should be taken very seriously by all educators and supervisors.
There are many prevention programs that exist across the world who are working to spread awareness of the dangers of SCI and it’s life changing effects. Preventing SCI is not always something that can be controlled, but following the safety practices helps to make them less likely. Having the appropriate awareness and taking proper precautions are absolutely necessary as they could help to save a person’s life.
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Spinal Cord Team