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What are the risks of a spinal cord injury on a motorcycle?

While Washington residents can suffer serious injuries in a car accident, a motorcycle accident comes with even bigger risks. Motorcycles do not provide the protection - including the structural enclosure, seatbelts, safety glass, air bags and more - that cars provide.

Without this protection, motorcyclists can experience serious injuries in an accident. These injuries can leave victims with permanent disabilities that require constant and long-term care. Spinal cord injuries are particularly devastating. People who suffer a spinal cord injury may be unable to live independently again. A serious spinal cord injury can result in permanent paralysis or even death.

Medical experts have examined the risk of spinal cord injuries in motorcycle crashes. In one study, these experts analyzed more than 1,000 motorcycle accidents and determined the risk of spinal cord injuries. They found that 11.2 percent of those involved in these accidents suffered some sort of spinal cord injury. Those injured were 11.1 percent female and 88.9 percent male, and were an average of 30.2 years old.

The study found that in many cases - 42.9 percent - multiple areas of the spine were damaged in the accident. The most common injuries occurred in the thoracic spine with injuries occurring in 54.8 percent of cases. Additionally, in 10.3 percent of the cases, a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle resulted in death. Neurological injuries were recorded at a rate of 19.8 percent and 8.7 percent of people required spinal surgery.

One who suffers a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident should be aware of their legal rights. If a negligent driver is responsible, the accident victim may be entitled to damages. These individuals may wish to consult an attorney for specific legal advice.

Source: Pubmed.gov, "Spinal injuries in motorcycle crashes: patterns and outcomes," A. Robertson, P.V. Giannoudis, T. Branfoot, I. Barlow, S.J. Matthews, R.M. Smith, July 2002

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