Do Spinal Cord Injuries Affect Life Span?
With the advancement of antibiotics, modern materials such as plastics and latex, and better procedures for dealing with the everyday issues of living with spinal cord injuries, many people are not affected by their disability. The type of rehabilitation facility used is the most important indicator of long-term survival. This demonstrates the importance of and the difference made by going to a facility that specializes in spinal cord injuries. People who use vents are at some increased danger of dying from pneumonia or respiratory infection, but modern technology is improving in that area as well. Pressure sores are another common cause of hospitalization, and if not treated, can mean death.
Eight-five percent of patients who survive the first 24 hours are still alive ten years later. The most common cause of death is due to diseases of the respiratory system, with most of these being due to pneumonia. In fact, pneumonia is the single leading cause of death in the 15 year period after the injury. The second leading cause of death is non-ischemic heart disease. These are almost always unexplained heart attacks often occurring among young persons who have no previous history of underlying heart disease.
Deaths due to external causes are the third leading cause of death for spinal cord injury patients. These include subsequent unintentional injuries, suicides and homicides.