Next week marks 45 years since Joni Eareckson Tada’s reckless dive into the Chesapeake Bay which resulted in a spinal cord injury. With approximately 11,000 new cases occurring each year in the US, spinal cord injury (SCI) usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine, which fractures or dislocates vertebrae. Statistics show that SCI is most often caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls, acts of violence, and sports injuries. Although not all injuries are preventable, below are some simple tips for spinal cord injury prevention:
- Defensive driving and wearing seat belts greatly reduces the risk of serious injury if there is an automobile accident. Be sure to buckle children into age and weight-appropriate child safety seats.
- Do not use a cell phone or any item that may be a distraction while driving.
- Always wear a helmet when playing contact sports, riding a motorcycle, bike, or skateboard.
- Diving into shallow water (like Joni did 45 years ago) is a major cause of spinal cord trauma. Check the depth of water before diving, and look for rocks or other possible obstructions.
- Football, snowboarding, and sledding injuries often involve sharp blows or abnormal twisting which can result in spinal cord trauma. Use appropriate protective equipment, techniques, and be sure to inspect the area for obstacles.
- Follow safety practices at work and during recreation. Use proper protective equipment if an injury is possible.
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