Bikers dominate spinal cord injuries
Young male motorcyclists continue to dominate the ranks of those Australians who suffer a spinal cord injury.
There were 362 cases of new spinal cord injury in 2007-08, according to latest data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Most happened in crashes or falls, with just 77 having "non-trauma" causes such as infection, pressure on the spine from a cancerous growth or damage linked to osteoarthritis.
Motor vehicle accidents accounted for almost half of the trauma-related injuries and, within this group, young male motorbike riders again featured highly.
The accidents happened on highways and roads but also "off-road bike trails, beaches and farms", according to the report released on Wednesday.
"Fifty-one per cent of transport incidents were motor vehicle occupants while forty-nine per cent were unprotected road users, predominantly motorcyclists," it states.
"The vast majority of unprotected road users were male, and they tended to be younger with over half in the 15-34 years age group.
"Motorcyclists formed the youngest group, with an average age of 32 years."
Trailbike and motorcross racing were also listed among leisure activities that contributed to the spinal cord injuries, along with playing football of various codes, bicycle racing and horse riding.
Diving, surfing, swimming or jumping into bodies of water were also significant contributors to injuries.
Falls caused 81 cases of spinal cord injury during the year. In most cases (64 per cent), the victim fell more than a metre, such as from a roof.
Other causes of the injury included being struck or colliding with another person or object.
Patients recovering from a spinal cord injury each stayed, on average, just over four months in hospital.
"Overall, the rates and causes of spinal cord injury, and characteristics of people affected ... remained broadly similar to previous years."