Injuries and the Elderly: Spinal Cord Injury Concerns

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The greatness of a society can be measured by how it cares for its most vulnerable populations, including children and those with disabilities. One often neglected population is the elderly, who often need more care and commitment than many people are willing to provide.

The elderly are particularly at risk for injury, as their physical ability declines and they are more likely to fall. Fractured hips are among the most common and famous of these types of injuries, but one type that needs to get more attention is spinal injuries. Though less common, this type of injury is particularly debilitating. These are more like when a person falls down a flight of stairs, is injured in an accident, or falls on a slippery surface.

New research out of Ohio State University demonstrates that these spinal cord injuries, which can occur at any age, are even more devastating for the elderly. Working with mice, doctors demonstrated that certain immune cells in the central nervous system stop activating as we age. This affects our ability to heal in all situations, but is particularly dangerous with injuries to the spine.

If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal injury, it is important that you take great care in limiting the damage, especially if the individual is older. The elderly individual’s compromised ability to heal makes emergency treatment even more important. When the injury occurs, make sure you:

  • call 911 immediately;
  • refrain from moving the individual if a spinal injury is suspected;
  • stay with the person as much as possible and talk to them to keep them conscious.
  • follow through with physical therapy after the initial treatment.

Spinal injuries are particularly difficult, and expensive, to treat properly. Sometimes spinal injuries are just terrible accidents, but sometimes they can occur because of someone else’s negligence, particularly if the person you love is in an assisted living center or a nursing home. If you or someone you love suffered a spinal injury in an accident, it is important that you contact a lawyer to help you determine what your options are going forward to help protect yourself and others from a similar accident occurring.