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Are Cars And Drivers Getting Safer?

Motor vehicle accidents no longer lead the list of serious accidents that cause spinal cord trauma in the United States. Are auto manufacturers doing a better job of making cars safer? Are our Georgia drivers doing a better job behind the wheel, resulting in fewer serious or fatal car accidents?

Or, is it none of the above? Is it simply that people are living longer? Motor vehicle accidents were displaced by falls as the leading cause of traumatic spinal cord injury.

As people live longer, the population of elderly people in the United States is growing; at the same time, serious falls among this group are increasing. The good news is that because the population most likely to suffer a fall leading to serious back injuries can be isolated, improvements in fall prevention may successfully address these injuries.

The results of the study indicated that from 2000 to 2005, the average age of someone who experienced a traumatic spinal cord injury was 41. Now, that age has increased by ten years, up to 51. Spinal injuries themselves are dangerous - they present rehabilitation, mobility and self-sufficiency issues that must be addressed. But, for the elderly, spinal cord injuries are even more dangerous. Serious injuries that result in hospitalization for elderly patients are more likely to end in the patient's death simply because the body is less able to recover and other health conditions may be exacerbated by the new injury.

To the credit of the automobile industry, drivers and passengers nationwide, researchers noted that improved safety features such as airbags and consistent use of safety belts contributed to falls overtaking motor vehicle accidents as the most likely cause of spinal cord injuries.

Source: Insurance Business, "Falls overtake auto wrecks as leading cause of spinal cord injuries," February 5, 2014

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