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Some keys to reducing spinal cord injuries

People in the Charleston area who have been touched by a spinal cord injury understand what a life-changing and difficult injury this can be for a person to deal with. These injuries are often debilitating, can cause paralysis and require the injured person to have long-term medical care. In addition, spinal cord injury victims may need help performing daily tasks that they easily could have accomplished on their own prior to the injury. Thus, a spinal cord injury can take a heavy toll on both the injured person and their loved ones.

Every year, about 12,000 people in the United States suffer a spinal cord injury; this translates to one spinal cord injury every 44 minutes. Like so many other injuries, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Driving while texting or talking on the phone significantly increases the risk of a car accident and resulting spinal cord injury.

The American Spinal Injury Association has some tips to help people avoid spinal cord injuries from motor vehicle accidents. Wearing a seatbelt at all times is, of course, first on the list. Seatbelts save lives and, under West Virginia law, anyone that is 17-years-old or younger must either sit in a safety seat or wear a seatbelt, regardless of whether they are in the front or back seat. Likewise, people who are 18 and older must wear seat belts when riding in the front seat.

Another crucial safety tip is to avoid distracted driving. People who talk on the phone while driving are four times more likely to be involved in an auto accident than those people who avoid cell phone use while driving. Similarly, people who text and drive are 23 percent more likely to get in an accident. These aren't the only forms of distracted driving, though, and people should avoid doing anything that diverts their attention from the task of driving safely.

While motor vehicle accidents are not the only cause of spinal cord injuries, they are the leading cause. This means that as the number of accidents decrease, so too should the number of spinal cord injuries. All drivers should do everything that they can to prevent these accidents that can cause severe damages, like spinal cord injuries.

Source: American Spinal Injury Association, "Facts on SCI Prevention," Accessed on March 17, 2015

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