Truth & Dare: Spinal Cord Injuries & Men

By Beverly Calero

Did you know that accidents and spinal cord injuries pose one of the greatest threats to men’s health in the US?  As the days of summer fall upon us, plans for adventurous getaways abound, but how deeply do men think about how to enjoy the summer safely? Beneath every cliff that seems ripe for diving off of is a potential danger of shallow water.  And before you get your motor running and head out on the highway on your motorcycle or in your sports car, keep in mind that this is the season when automobile accidents are at an all-time high.

As part of our annual June celebration of “everything men,” our discussion of health and wellness issues will turn to ways that men can be informed and, hopefully safe, this summer and all year long.

Somewhere in America a person sustains a spinal cord injury every forty-one minutes – and 82% of the victims are male.

Males between the ages of 16 and 30 account for 56% of SCI injuries annually – with nearly 11,000 new injuries occurring each and every year. At 42.1%, vehicular accidents are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries, with accidental falls coming in second at 26.7%. Rounding out the top three causes is violence – at 15.1% – with a majority of those cases being primarily attributed to gunshot wounds.

Experts suggest that the reason males become injured at a much higher rate than their female counterparts is because they are far more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior that can tragically result in injury or death.

Like many tragic occurrences, spinal cord injuries do not discriminate.  Men from every color and creed are affected by them, with the prevailing statistics on victims being as follows:  66.1 % Caucasian, 27.1 % African American, 8.1% Hispanic, and 2.0% Asian.

52% of spinal cord injured individuals are paraplegic and 47% are quadriplegic.  When a man suffers a spinal cord injury, oftentimes his previous feelings of virility, sexual prowess and powerfulness are immediately replaced by feelings of weakness, impotence and complete dependence on others.   And while the effects of these traumas last a lifetime, the occurrence of the trauma is, for the most part, preventable. Sure, your friends may tease you for refusing to jump off that cliff.  They may call you a punk for strapping on that motorcycle helmet. They may even call you “Miss Daisy” for driving at the speed limit.  But go ahead and let them laugh because living the rest of your life with a spinal cord injury is not a joke.

For more information about Spinal Cord Injuries, visit  for up to date statistics and prevention information.


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