Common Types of Spinal Injuries Caused by Falls

The Mayo Clinic estimates that 31% of spinal cord injuries are a result of a fall. The chances of a fall resulting in a spinal cord injury increase dramatically after the age of 65 as well. These types of injuries can leave an individual immobilized for quite some time, and in some cases permanently disabled. Pinpointing those who should be held accountable for this type of injury is often very important to both physical and financial recovery.

What You Should Know About Slip and Fall Accidents

During a fall, the spinal column will be affected to some degree. The severity of the impact the fall will have depends on several factors. The age of the person, the level of health, pre-existing conditions, and the extent of the fall.

In most cases, a fall will mostly affect the hip area, spinal column, and often the limbs. This is due to the natural way a human will attempt to catch themselves when they fall. The middle part of the body is often heaviest, so this part of the body will hit the ground first, causing the greatest amount of impact on the hips and spine.

Slip and fall accidents can quite literally happen anywhere, anytime, but there are some locations that seem to be connected with falls more often than others.

  • Commercially owned property- Falls can happen because of wet floors, stairs, escalators, debris, and uneven parking lots or sidewalks. It is also common for people to experience injuries from falling objects stored improperly on high shelves.
  • Home- People are often injured in their own homes by tripping over carpeting, rugs, debris, or falling downstairs. Getting in or out of the shower also poses a fall risk, especially for older people.
  • Outdoors- Slippery roads, sidewalks, or debris-filled walkways can also contribute to falls.

Severe falls can result in life-altering medical problems including spinal injuries. In extreme cases, these types of injuries can require surgery. Many individuals who suffer a spinal injury will experience extreme pain and suffering as well as dramatic changes to their quality of life. Because the spinal column protects the spinal cord, any injuries in this area could result in paralysis or ongoing nerve issues.

Here is a summary of some of the most common types of spinal injuries caused by falls.

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

These are among the most serious types of injuries which can result from a fall. A complete spinal cord injury involves severe trauma to the spinal column resulting in life-altering damage to the spinal cord. This type of injury will have a lifelong effect on the quality of life and mobility. Many people who experience this type of injury will suffer paralysis to some degree.

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

With an incomplete spinal cord injury, there is damage to the spinal column. This type of injury can in many cases be corrected through surgery. Most patients suffering an incomplete spinal cord injury will endure long recovery times.

Slipped Disc

Between each vertebra of the spine, there is a disc of cartilage. This disc keeps the bones of the vertebra from rubbing together and also protects the sensitive nerve endings found along the spine. During a severe fall, this disc can be damaged. This type of damage often manifests as a bulging disc. If the disc bulges too much it can rupture. This type of injury will result in pain and decreased mobility. Those suffering from this injury will have a difficult time returning to normal day-to-day activities.

Nerve Damage

Encased within the bony spinal column is the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bundle of vital nerves which creates an essential nerve center. This nerve center sends out signals to all of the nerves of the body. If there is damage in this area, it can have ongoing effects on the nerves of other parts of the body. Nerve damage of this kind can result in pain and decreased mobility. Nerve damage is very difficult to treat.

Twisting of the Spine

A twisting of the spine will often not result in a long-term spinal cord injury. However, when the spine is overextended, the attached muscles and ligaments will experience long-term soreness, tightness, and pain. This can result in time missed from work, pain, and suffering.

Other Common Injuries Accompanying a Fall

A fall can also result in other types of serious injuries as well.

  • Broken bones are often a result of slip and fall accidents.
  • Head injuries can have serious ongoing repercussions following a fall.
  • Traumatic brain injuries can result when the head is impacted during a fall. A traumatic brain injury will cause life-altering conditions affecting mobility, cognition, memory, and behavior.
  • Tendon/Ligament injuries are also common after a fall.
  • Hip or knee injuries are also common.

Prevention and Liability

Most slip and fall accidents can be avoided. In most cases, these types of injuries are a result of negligence on the part of another person. When an environment is not kept clean and free of debris it can result in falls. When a property is not kept in proper maintenance it can put others at risk.

If a fall resulted from the negligence of another, the injured victim has certain rights. An injury of this magnitude will often result in expensive medical bills, time lost from work, as well as pain and suffering. A good way to determine if you are entitled to compensation following your fall and/or injury is to work with a legal team that has experience in this field. A professional legal team can evaluate the details of your injury and help you better understand if you are entitled to compensation.

Receiving compensation for your injury can help pay for medical expenses and ensure that you get the best possible treatment for your injuries. The level of treatment you receive could have a huge impact on how quickly you recover and the quality of life you are able to build back.