Seniors Less Likely Candidates for Spinal Injury

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New research published this summer in the Canadian Medical Association Journal indicates that while spinal injuries among seniors are increasing, this age group is less likely to be treated with surgery and has a longer lag time before treatment compared to younger patients.

While most spinal cord injuries occur in those ages 16 to 30, they are increasing in people older than age 70 largely due to falls. The researchers followed 1,440 people who had suffered trauma to the spinal cord, 11.7 percent of whom were in the latter group. While the older patients in the study typically had less severe injuries than the younger group, they often stayed longer in an acute care center. In addition, the seniors usually had a longer wait before being transferred to acute care and a longer wait before surgery.

The study authors suggest that these discrepancies could be due to a bias in how older patients are treated. The inequality has serious consequences, with adults older than age 70 significantly more likely to die from a spinal cord injury than younger patients. By contrast, younger adults are more likely to suffer partial or total paralysis from this type of injury.

Since spinal cord injuries are relatively rare among seniors, treatment protocols in this realm are currently lacking. The researchers suggested essential next steps to close this gap in care, including establishing time frames for treatment for spinal cord injuries among seniors.

If you provide home care in Caledon for an older family member, the most important thing you can do to help them avoid a serious spinal cord injury is remove fall hazards. Clear the home of clutter, secure the edges of rugs, and make sure all pathways are well lit. If your loved one does fall, visit the emergency room immediately to determine the extent of injuries and ensure treatment as soon as possible.

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s safety, Home Care Assistance can help. Our compassionate and expertly trained caregivers in Caledon offer mobility support, safety monitoring, and help with everyday activities on schedule best suited to meet your loved one’s needs. Call 905-951-8885 and schedule an in-home consultation with a friendly Care Manager to learn more.

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