According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), accidents and violence cause an estimated 10,000 spinal cord injuries each year, and more than 200,000 Americans live day-to-day with the disabling effects of SCI. The incidence of spinal cord injuries peaks among people in their early 20s, with a small increase in the elderly population due to falls and degenerative diseases of the spine. SCI is an uncommon source of morbidity and mortality in children.
Causes and symptoms
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA), spinal cord injuries are caused in the United States by motor vehicle accidents (44%), acts of violence (24%), falls (22%), sports (8%), and other causes (2%) such as abscesses, tumors, polio, spina bifida and Friedrich's Ataxia, a rare inherited disorder. For infants, motor vehicle crash is the leading cause of SCI. Falls rank highest for ages two to nine years and sports for the 10 to 14 age group. The most common injury level for the five to 13 age group is the high cervical spine (C1-C4).
SCI symptoms usually appear immediately after the injury. However, symptoms can develop slowly, if an infection or tumor is gradually increasing pressure on the spinal cord. General symptoms are as follows:
weakness, poor coordination or paralysis, particularly below the level of the injury