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Risk of Spinal Cord Injuries During the Holidays

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Posted on September 21, 2016

November and December are busy months in the United States. The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and the following month brings the hustle and bustle of holiday decorating, shopping and social events. What most people don’t realize is that the risk of suffering a serious spinal cord injury increases at this time of year. Slip and fall accidents, car accidents and sports injuries can not only put a damper on the festivities, but can cause permanent paralysis and disability.

A spinal cord injury occurs when the head, neck or back are involved in an accident that fracture or compress the spine.Automobile accidents, especially those involving a roll over of a vehicle, cause the majority of spinal cord injuries. The tremendous impact to the head, neck or spine in a collision can sever the vertebrate and nerve endings that control bodily functions from the neck down including breathing, movement and feeling.

Depending upon the site of the injury, victims can be totally paralyzed and dependent upon constant care and ventilation for the rest of their life. Spinal cord injuries from the mid-back and below can leave an individual paralyzed from the waist down and unable to walk.

Slip and fall accidents are the second leading cause for spinal cord injuries, especially during the holiday season. People climb ladders to put up festive lights outside on their house or lawns or on the tree inside the house. The simple act of hanging a wreath while standing on a ladder can leave a victim paralyzed if they fall and injure their spinal cord. Ladders are the main cause of serious spinal cord injuries resulting from falls, but many weather conditions and changes in household routines can also lead to serious falls.

Ice, particularly black ice, can quickly change a pleasant evening walk into a life changing situation. As many people decorate their homes with multiple electrical decorations, wires extending beyond outlets can trip a person and result in a serious spinal cord injury.

The holidays are also associated with sporting events such as football, cheerleading, basketball and hockey. Some holiday celebrations are centered around sporting events. Many families enjoy a tradition of gathering around the table for a meal, and then gathering around the television set to cheer on their favorite team. Few suspect that an enjoyable and entertaining game could turn into a catastrophic situation for players.

Spinal cord injuries most often result from head injuries, neck injuries and fractures of the spinal cord in contact sports such as these. Extreme caution should always be a player’s first priority when playing sports, especially during the holiday season when the entertainment is enjoyed by many.