Spinal Cord Awareness Month is recognized in September. Although a spinal cord injury is usually the result of an accident and can happen to anyone, certain factors may predispose you to a higher risk of sustaining a spinal cord injury.
Learn more about risk factors and living with SCI in this week's latest blog.
Risk Factors for a SCI Injury:
- Being male. Spinal cord injuries affect a disproportionate number of men, who account for about 80% of all spinal cord injuries.
- Being between the ages of 16 and 30. You are most likely to suffer a traumatic spinal cord injury if you are between the ages of 16 and 30.
- Older than 65. Falls cause most injuries in older adults. The overall average age at time of injury is 43 years.
- Engaging in risky behavior. Diving into shallow water, playing sports without wearing the proper safety gear or not taking proper precautions can lead to spinal cord injuries.
- Having a bone or joint disorder. A relatively minor injury can cause a spinal cord injury if you have another disorder that affects your bones or joints, such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
- Exercise regularly to increase balance and flexibility and avoid falls
- Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications yearly
- Get an annual eye exam
- Make your home safer by removing throw rugs, clearing floors and hallways of clutter, and improving the lighting in your home and stairways.
- DON’T dive headfirst into any unknown water. You never know what’s beneath the surface of the water. Water levels may have shifted, and the water is too shallow for diving.
- Always wear a seatbelt
- Always wear appropriate clothes, shoes, and safety gear when playing a sport
- Learn proper techniques and movements used in different sports
- Avoid hitting your head
Tips for Family and Friends to Understanding Spinal Cord Injury (source: Neurotrama Living with SCI)
While the cause and nature of the spinal cord injury varies with the individual, and each person responds according to their personality and prognosis, there are some emotions commonly experienced by those who have had a spinal cord injury:
- Feelings of dependency may cause your loved one to withdraw. For many people, the idea of losing even the smallest bit of self-sufficiency can be almost unbearable.
- He or she may believe they have become a burden on you and others. The person may feel they are “dragging everybody down” and that the family would be “better off” without them.
- Struggles with self-image and self-esteem, and fear of abandonment may contribute to expressions of anger or isolation.
- Embarrassment, or even shame, may arise from unexpected physical changes and loss of their abilities.
- If these feelings become severe, persistent or cause loss of hope it may be symptoms of depression. If you think you’re loved one is depressed talk with their doctor and get help.