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Epidemiology of Pediatric SCI


Falls are another common causative factor of SCI in children. Early research indicated that pediatric syndrome of traumatic myelopathy without demonstrable vertebral injury was due to falls landing in the hyperflexion and hyperextension position. The onset of such an injury can be either immediate or delayed, and the lesion may be either complete or incomplete (Cheshire 1977). One study looked into the cause of SCI due to falls in children. Participants were divided into two groups based on age: children between ages 0-12 and adolescents between ages 13-18. It was revealed that falls were the predominant cause of injury in the group of children 0-12 years of age, and falls from height were the common cause in adolescents aged 13-18 years. Overall, in the group of older children, falling from a height yielded more severe injuries (Babu et al. 2016). Falls of less than five feet have been shown to cause cervical vertebral fracture and cervical SCI in young children under 6 years of age (Schwartz et al. 1997). Furthermore, children with asymptomatic or myelopathic atlantoaxial instability (loss of stability in the bones in the upper spine or neck under the base of the skull) secondary to os odontoideum (i.e., the anatomic anomaly of the upper cervical spine) are at a greater risk for acute SCI even after a minor traumatic injury such as injury caused by a fall (Zhang et al. 2015). While fall-related traumatic SCI may have pervasive physical and health consequences, its prevalence in the pediatric population is relatively low (Mukhida et al. 2006).

Overall, existing research has contributed to some valuable insight into the etiology of fall-related SCI. Future research could look more into the etiology of falls leading to SCI, in order to better understand the mechanism of injury, and how to better treat and prevent such injuries.

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