How to Prevent a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Nearly 11,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury in the U.S. every year. Car crashes, falls, guns, and sports related accidents all contribute to this large number. The following will provide you tips on preventing SCI and the negative life-long consequences that it can bring.


  1. Image titled Prevent a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Step 1
    Practice safe driving habits. Follow these simple safety steps:
    • Never operate a motor vehicle while using alcohol or drugs.
    • Do not get into a car being driven by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Always wear a seat belt.
    • To avoid air-bag injuries, place younger children (12 years & under) in the back seat and buckle them up.
    • Buckle children into child safety seats appropriate to their age and weight.
    • Follow driving laws and don't speed.
  2. Image titled Prevent a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Step 2
    Avoid slips and falls:
    • Use safety gates on a staircase - bottom and top.
    • Place secured banisters and/or handrails at all staircases.
    • Use a rubber-footed stool with a grab bar to reach high places.
    • Affix grab bars in your shower and bathtub.
    • Place window guards in windows above the first floor.
    • Exercise to maintain muscle tone and balance.
    • Wear non-slip shoes in areas that may be slippery or on floors with a high wax.
    • Remove items that may be stumbled over, like shoes or toys.
    • Put non-slip mats in bathrooms and tubs/showers.
  3. Image titled Prevent a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Step 3
    Make sports and recreational activities safer:
    • Always wear the appropriate gear for your activity.
    • Wear a helmet when playing contact sports, like football, ice hockey, or batting and running bases in baseball.
    • Wear protective headgear when riding a horse, bicycle, skating, or skateboarding.
    • Wear a helmet when snowboarding, skiing, or snowmobiling.
    • Never dive into a pool or recreational water source unless you are certain the water is deep enough. Jumping in the water feet first is always safer than diving.
    • Never participate in performance activities, such as gymnastics, without a spotter.
    • Avoid tackling head-first in football, or sliding head-first onto bases in baseball.
  4. Image titled Prevent a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Step 4
    Be aware that firearms is one of the leading causes of SCI. If you own a gun, keep the weapon in a locked cabinet. Store the ammunition in a secured area.


  • If you have a child that plays in a contact sport, such as football, talk with the coaches. Ask them if they have been diligent in enforcing the rules of safe practice and game play. If needed, educate yourself further and volunteer to speak to the players about proper techniques to avoid SCI. Encourage referees to enforce the proper rules of tackling.
  • Think First National Injury Prevention Foundation ( is a good place to search for information about preventing spinal cord injuries in children and teens.


  • Damage to the spinal cord is permanent. Doctors can sometimes fix the injury before it is too late, but this requires extremely fast action.

Article Info

Categories: Injury and Accidents