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Spinal cord injuries far too common in Nevada's snowy playground

Northern Nevada is known as one of America's playgrounds, with its big, blue skies, towering mountains and world-class skiing.

Unfortunately, because so many people take ski vacations in northern Nevada, the area sees more than its share of severe spinal injuries. According to an article in the Reno Gazette Journal, the area's trauma center treats about the same number of spinal injury victims as a similar center would in a major city.

The trauma center treats from 45 to 80 spinal cord injury victims a year, a surgeon at the center told the newspaper. Most of those injuries are sustained in snow-related activities such as skiing, snowmobiling and snowboarding.

Vacationers in the Northern Nevada area include people from Las Vegas, California and around the nation.

In some cases, the devastating spinal cord injuries are caused by another vacationer's recklessness or negligence. In some instances, injuries are caused by negligence on the part of the ski resort operator.

Across the nation, there are about 12,000 spinal cord injuries each year, many sustained in snow-related activities, but most sustained in car accidents, slips, falls and other mishaps.

In the newspaper article about spinal cord injuries in Northern Nevada, a surgeon at the regional trauma center acknowledged that the injuries get little media attention. "It's bad for the ski business to know about spinal cord injuries," he said.

Yet another doctor at the center previously worked with actor Christopher Reeve, who suffered paralysis after a spinal cord injury sustained when he fell from a horse. From that accident in 1995 to Reeve's death in 2004, there was considerable media attention on spinal cord injuries, the doctor said. That attention has since waned, however.

Resource: Reno Gazette Journal: "Severe spinal cord injuries high": March 12, 2011

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