Risk factors of Spinal Cord Injury

Published: April 24, 2005

Although a spinal cord injury is usually the result of an unexpected accident that can happen to anyone, some groups of people have a higher risk of
sustaining a spinal cord injury. These include:

  • Men. Spinal cord injury affects a disproportionate amount of men. In fact, women account for only 18 percent of spinal cord injuries in the United States.
  • Young adults and seniors. More than half the people living with a spinal cord injury were injured between the ages of 16 and 30. However, research shows an increase in the number of people who are at least 61 years old at the time of injury. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of spinal cord injury for people under age 65, while falls cause most injuries in older adults.
  • People who are active in sports. Sports and recreational activities cause up to 10 percent of the 11,000 spinal cord injuries in the United States each year. High-risk athletic activities include football, rugby, wrestling, gymnastics, diving, surfing, ice hockey and downhill skiing.
  • People with predisposing conditions. A relatively minor injury can cause spinal cord injury in people with conditions that affect their bones or joints, such as arthritis or Osteoporosis.