Study Reveals Age May Affect Spinal Cord Injury Severity

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2014 | Car Wrecks

A new study reveals that age may play a factor for people who receive spinal cord injuries in car accidents. Research conducted by doctors from Ohio State University indicates that the older someone is when they are injured, the more serious the potential damage may be to the spinal cord.

According to lead researcher Jonathan Godbout, a neuroscience professor at the school, the issue may be due to the way cells from the immune system are stimulated after the person is injured.

The study was done on mice. When younger mice received spinal cord injuries, specific cells from the brain and spinal cord activated a receptor, known as IL-4. This receptor acts as a messenger to the central nervous system to produce inflammation around the spinal cord, acting as a cushion.

When the elderly mice received spinal cord injuries, the brain and spinal cord immune cells did not activate the receptor, leaving the spinal cord without the extra protection that the young mice’s spinal cords had.

According to Dr. Godbout, the injuries on the older mice were almost 40 percent larger than the ones on the younger mice. The younger mice eventually regained movement of their hind legs, but the elderly mice didn’t.

Although researchers say that any potential medical benefit for spinal cord injury patients from this study is years away, they are encouraged by the result.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are approximately 300,000 people who have spinal cord injuries in this country. And every year, there are about 12,000 new injures that occur. Since 2010, the average age of a spinal cord injury victim has been 42 years old. Over 80 percent of those with injuries are male.

The statistics in the NSCISC database also reveals that since 2010, the most common reason for spinal cord injuries is motor vehicle crashes, at 36.5 percent. The second most common reason is falls, at 28.5 percent.

The average lifetime health care and living costs for someone with a spinal cord injury varies upon the extent of the injury and age. For someone who is injured at 25 years old, costs range from $1.5 million (for the least severe) to almost $5 million (for the most severe). For someone injured at 50 years old, the costs are $2 million to $2.5 million.

If you or someone in your family has received a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to discuss what legal options you may have.