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Falls are new leading cause of spinal cord injuries in U.S.

For many years, car accidents have been the primary cause of spinal cord injuries among adults of all ages in New York and throughout the United States. According to a new study, however, that is no longer the case. Now, slip and fall accidents are responsible for the largest percentage of spinal cord injuries in the U.S., with elderly people experiencing the most significant increase in these injuries.

Specifically, the study found that the overall number of spinal cord injuries increased among those aged 65 and older, while simultaneously decreasing among those aged 18 to 64. For all age groups, slip and fall accidents caused 41.5 percent of spinal cord injuries, while car accidents were responsible for just 35.5 percent. During the three-year study period, fall-related spinal cord injuries rose among those over 65, increasing from 23.6 to 30 percent of all injuries for that age group.

Researchers believe that there are several potential reasons for the shift. First, motor vehicle safety technology has improved significantly in recent years, offering greater protection to drivers and passengers. Second, people over 65 are more active than they used to be, creating more opportunities for slips and falls. Third, the population is simply getting older.

When elderly people suffer these injuries, the potential for harm is huge. According to the study, older adults with spinal cord injuries are four times more likely than their younger counterparts to die in the emergency room, and six times more likely to die during a hospital stay.

If your loved one has suffered a serious injury in a slip and fall accident caused by the negligence of a person or organization - a nursing home or medical facility, for example - you may be able to collect damages to cover medical costs and other expenses. A New York personal injury attorney can help determine whether such a suit is a good option for you. 

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

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